Back in February, when Ryan Pace said “we believe in Mitch” at the Indianapolis Convention Center, I wrote it was not guaranteed the Bears’ general manager would acquire a quarterback guaranteed to start over Mitch Trubisky.
Then the Bears traded for Nick Foles and restructured his contract, guaranteeing him $24 million over the next three years in the process. But that money did not, and does not, mean they’re financially tied to starting him in 2020 – as they would’ve been if, say, Teddy Bridgewater were signed. And so I kept writing about the possibility Trubisky still could be the Bears’ starting quarterback.
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But over the next few weeks and months, it seemed clearer and clearer to me that Foles, actually, would win the Bears’ competition and start Week 1. If Matt Nagy wants a starting quarterback who knows the offense better than him, as he said back in February, then Foles is the guy.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic not only hit, but never was controlled across the United States. The NFL and NFLPA had to drastically adjust 2020’s training camp schedule, eliminating preseason games and reducing the number of practices teams have to prepare for the regular season. Those preseason games were supposed to be separators in the Bears' quarterback competition.
Even as recently as a few weeks ago, I argued Foles would still be the Bears’ Week 1 starter. But exactly one month before the 2020 season begins, and as training camp practices start Monday at Halas Hall, I’ve changed my mind:
Mitch Trubisky will start Week 1 in Detroit.
But he’ll have a very, very, very short leash.
Here’s why: It’s going to be hard for either Trubisky or Foles to truly “win” the Bears’ quarterback competition over the next few weeks. Fifteen practices in 18 days and no preseason games will not provide a clear enough picture for coaches and Pace, no matter how well the Bears’ decision-makers do to drill down on the minutiae of every rep at taken at Halas Hall.
Nagy wanted to play both Trubisky and Foles in preseason games, along with other Bears’ starters, to get a more complete picture of his quarterback competition. Without those preseason games, plenty of unknowns will exist when the Bears pick a starter.
And I think that benefits Trubisky here. Sticking with the incumbent against a team he’s torched in the past seems like a safe choice (Trubisky, in three games vs. Detroit in Nagy’s offense, completed 75 percent of his passes for 866 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception). Even if it weren’t the Lions in Week 1, Trubisky incumbent status and rapport with his receivers gives him an edge.
Also: Isn’t Foles better served coming off the bench?
And that’s why I won’t be surprised if Trubisky starts with a helmet but finishes with a baseball cap one month from today. Or starts Sept. 13 but is on the bench by the end of the month.
I do think Trubisky "wins" the job, though. I’ve come back around to that line of thinking with what we know right now. But my thinking, just like the Bears', is subject to change once we actually see these guys practice starting next week.