Mitch Trubisky is motivated to remain the starter in Chicago – can he hold off Nick Foles?
We’ve officially got some quarterback controversy in the Windy City.
"I was kind of pissed off in a good way. I've been motivated ever since."
Mitch Trubisky spoke Friday for the first time since the Bears traded for Nick Foles, declared it an “open competition” to be the starter and declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option.https://t.co/0j5GUTfkW8Article continues below ...
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) June 12, 2020
Well, it might not have reached the level of controversy just yet – but the quarterback competition is about to be in full swing.
And it all started on March 31, when the Chicago Bears traded a fourth round pick – the 140th pick overall – to the Jacksonville Jaguars, in exchange for Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles.
— Nick Foles (@NickFoles) March 31, 2020
With the move, many thought that Bears current starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky was on the clock, that it was a foregone conclusion Foles would assume the starting role.
How can the #Bears game-plan for Nick Foles’ success?
I took a look back through his career and focused in on what he does best. Do the Bears have all the supporting structure needed to make it work?
Watch some film with me here: https://t.co/lX4mteGwKU
— dan durkin (@djdurkin) April 1, 2020
And considering those assumptions, Trubisky claims he is now more motivated than ever, and he said as much on Friday, when he spoke with the media for the first time since the season ended on Dec. 29 on a Zoom conference call.
Trubisky: "I feel like I'm in a good mental space. I'm motivated and driven to do more than I did last year. I'm very locked in to what I've got to do."
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) June 12, 2020
Last year wasn’t the year it was supposed to be for Trubisky and the Bears.
Trubisky was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and started 12 games his rookie season, going 4-8. He assumed the role of full-time starter at the beginning of the 2018 season, and in 14 games, Trubisky had the Bears humming. As a starter, he went 11-3 and Chicago finished the season 12-4.
Trubisky completed 66.6% of his passes – a higher clip than Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson that year – and he threw for 3,223 yards (230.2 yards per game), 24 TDs and 12 INTs. He also rushed for 421 yards and 3 TDs, and after the season, he replaced Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the Pro Bowl.
— Jim McMahon (@JimMcMahon) January 24, 2019
The Bears made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC Wild Card matchup.
The Eagles were led by none other than Nick Foles – but we’ll get back to him later.
Naturally, heading into the 2019 season, the expectations were high for Trubisky and the Bears, especially considering Trubisky had a breakout year in 2018 and Chicago would return the 3rd best defense in all of football, led by superstar linebacker Khalil Mack.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
Trubisky sputtered and the Bears faltered. Chicago missed the playoffs, finishing the season 8-8, and in 15 starts, Trubisky went 8-7. His completion percentage dropped to 63.2, he threw for 3,138 yards (209.2 yards per game), 17 TDs and 10 INTs.
Enter the NFL offseason.
The #Bears are declining the fifth-year option on QB Mitch Trubisky, source said.
The team has liked Trubisky’s attitude since the Nick Foles trade and it’ll be an open competition. A chance for Trubisky to make himself a lot of money before his contract expires next March.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 2, 2020
To say the Bears turned up the heat on Trubisky would be putting it lightly, and now, with the NFL season around the corner, Trubisky and Foles are in full competition mode.
And according to Matt Potash, Bears reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Foles is the favorite.
Though Foles is the favorite — in Vegas and in the minds of many Trubisky-weary Bears fans — it’s a pretty even battle to start. The hope is that competition will bring out the best in both of them, or at least one of them. After two years of being supported and publicly coddled by Matt Nagy, maybe Trubisky will respond to the challenge of having to win the job instead of it being handed to him.
Interestingly enough, despite his 8-year career in four different cities, Foles has never been in an actual quarterback competition in preseason camp. Most of his opportunities have come as a result of injuries to his teams’ starting quarterback, which Potash points out.
Foles’ credentials as a competitor are solid, with his league-leading 119.2 passer rating in 2013 with the Eagles and, of course, the standout postseason with the Eagles after the 2017 season that was capped by the Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
But he … never has won an open competition for the starting job. His only starting jobs were unchallenged — with the Eagles in 2014, the Rams in 2015 and the Jaguars in 2019 … So the favorite to win the Bears’ starting quarterback job is a quarterback who has done his best work in the NFL as the No. 2 — replacing injured Michael Vick in 2013; replacing injured Carson Wentz in 2017; and again replacing an injured Wentz in 2018.
The Bears are pitting Mitch Trubisky against Nick Foles, but neither has ever won a quarterback competition. https://t.co/iJd38YKj4Y
— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) June 5, 2020
Bears head coach Matt Nagy said this week that he will make a decision based off of his feel and intuition.
“To me, you can sense it, you feel it, the efficiency, the productivity within the special situations that you have,” Nagy said. “Is it base first or second down — are you making the correct adjustments at the line of scrimmage to pick up the blitz? How accurate are you on specific throws? Are you playing smart in the red zone? What’s your mentality? What’s your communication like at the line of scrimmage with the wide receivers when you’re going two-minute, no-huddle?
“And how are you handling the coaching? And then — and this is the most challenging part, with where we’re at with losing out on the offseason — is there improvement? Everybody has bad days. But do you respond to that … or are there three bad days in a row?”
Foles career has indeed been an intriguing one. Although he’s an 8-year veteran, Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP and former Pro Bowler, he is only 26-22 as a starter. His career completion percentage is 61.9. He’s thrown 71 TDs and 35 INTs, an average of 8.8 TDs and 4.4 INTs per season.
Regardless, Foles’ championship experience, combined with Trubisky’s disappointing 2019 campaign, apparently has Foles in the driver’s seat of the competition, at least according to Potash.
Trubisky won’t give up the job without a fight, however, and expressed his desire to retain his starting spot during Friday’s call.
Trubisky says his relationship with Nick Foles has been great – all positive – a healthy relationship. But also said, “I want to win this competition. I want to be the guy out on the field leading this team.”
— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) June 12, 2020
Trubisky on the QB competition with Nick Foles. “At the end of the day it comes down to on-field performance…I know it’ll be a good, healthy competition…it’ll make our team better.” Says he feels like he’s in a good mental space right now and is “driven” – “locked-in”.
— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) June 12, 2020
And so far, at least one of Trubisky’s Bears teammates likes what he’s seeing from the young quarterback.
"He's slinging it right now … You still see the talent in Mitch." — RB Tarik Cohen on Mitch Trubisky.
The #Bears QB has been organizing workouts for weeks in the Chicago area with his teammates who are in town.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) June 11, 2020
We’ll see if Nagy sees it, too, Tarik.
Catch Trubisky’s entire Friday conference call below: