Chicago Bears' real quarterback competition starts in Detroit

  • FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2020, file photo, Chicago Bears quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky, left, and Nick Foles walk on the field during an NFL football camp practice in Lake Forest, Ill. The Bears acquired Super Bowl 52 MVP Foles to compete with former No. 2 draft pick Trubisky for the starting quarterback job, one of several moves to shake up an offense that ranked among the NFL's worst last season.

    FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2020, file photo, Chicago Bears quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky, left, and Nick Foles walk on the field during an NFL football camp practice in Lake Forest, Ill. The Bears acquired Super Bowl 52 MVP Foles to compete with former No. 2 draft pick Trubisky for the starting quarterback job, one of several moves to shake up an offense that ranked among the NFL's worst last season.

 
 
Updated 9/3/2020 7:05 PM

Well, guys, the hay is in the barn as far as the Bears' starting quarterback "competition" goes, and the winner is ...

Actually, we'll have to wait a few more days for that announcement, but Thursday was the Bears' last practice before it comes.

 

All that's left now is for Matt Nagy, Bill Lazor, Dave Ragone, John DiFilippo and, I'd assume, Ryan Pace to sit behind closed doors and debate the outcome.

The reason "competition" is in quotes is not to question Pace's or Nagy's sincerity when they told us that's what it would be and that it would be truly open.

The unfortunate reality though is that when all four exhibition games went out the window, the competition went as well.

The main concern with Trubisky going into camp was whether his recognition and feel for the offense could improve over the off-season.

With Foles, the question always has been how long it would take him to get his timing with new targets down, and does he have what it takes to be "the man" or is he meant to be a super sub?

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As Nagy told us after the scrimmage last Saturday: "For us we know there certainly can be improvement with both of them ..."

"But they're making good decisions. There's times they're making good throws. There's times they're making throws they wish they had back ..."

"We realize that this is a very important decision, not just for us but for them too, and they know the decision is in their hands and they're playing it out ... Ultimately there's going to come a time when we have to say OK, you are the starter and you are the backup and it's go time."

"It cannot be a time where there's a setback mentally because you're the backup."

These are clipped phrases from longer answers, but absolutely none of it is out of context, and I chose them to make two points that appear to be very clear. Neither player has been able to do anything on the field to clearly separate himself and claim the job.

And while Nagy insists repetitive study of the practice tapes will yield an answer, it's impossible to not believe the decision will involve in some part what these coaches knew about these two going in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's not ideal, but the rules were taken out of Nagy's and Pace's hands, and this is what they're left with.

What does Trubisky believe he has done to win the job?

"I think overall just showing that I've improved throwing the ball downfield in situations with the team (drills) and one-on-ones (individual) routes, just showing that I could make better decisions with the football for the offense and being more accurate, especially out and to the left and outside the numbers," he said.

"I think I've shown that I can make those throws, and I've done better with my footwork and just being able to lead and run this offense. I feel like I've had a good camp."

For Foles' part, he has insisted from Day One that he's more interested in the process than the outcome.

"I know everyone wants an answer to what it takes, but it just takes being myself and going out there and playing and letting them decide who's the best to lead the team, and no matter what happens we're all a part of the Chicago Bears," Foles said.

These are two very likable guys, and it will be hard not to feel good for, if perhaps not about, which one wins.

There are, however, two inescapable facts.

For all of his considerable successes in the NFL, it has all come to Foles as a backup. On the three different occasions he has been named a starter it has not worked out.

At the same time, Trubisky is the better athlete with the better tools and he's never really been a backup. The only logical choice for opening day in Detroit appears to be Trubisky.

But logic doesn't always rule, and if it isn't Mitch it will be fair to question whether it ever really was a competition, and whoever it is in Detroit, that will be where the competition really begins.

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