Nick Foles has been the Bears’ starting quarterback for two full games and three whole practices.
All three of the practices came before the game against the Colts. On a short week before their ‘‘Thursday Night Football’’ game last week against the Buccaneers, the Bears held only walk-throughs. After taking the weekend off, they had another walk-through Monday to keep their practice squad at home after offensive lineman Badara Traore tested positive for the coronavirus.
When the Bears bemoan a lack of detail and stress the need to ‘‘calibrate’’ their offense, they know the time for that to happen is during practice, not on the sideline during a game. That’s what makes their practice Wednesday — and the two others this week — so important.
‘‘It all matters right now, the amount of time on the practice field, especially for Nick and those receivers and tight ends and backs,’’ passing-game coordinator Dave Ragone said Tuesday. ‘‘The more we’re able to do that moving forward, the better it’s going to be — better for all of us. And I think it just helps overall with the execution of each play and, more importantly, the timing of each route.’’
Since taking over for Mitch Trubisky in the third quarter of Week 3 against the Falcons, Foles has completed 22 passes to receiver Allen Robinson, 12 to running back David Montgomery and 11 to tight end Jimmy Graham. No one else has double-digit receptions from Foles.
Foles’ wheel-route completion to Montgomery in the fourth quarter Thursday, then, was even more impressive. Foles had blind faith Montgomery would be in the right spot.
‘‘I think it really comes down to the faith in your own ability to put a ball in a specific area where then you have the trust that the guy is going to be there,’’ Ragone said. ‘‘But more importantly, you have faith with your own ability that you can make any throw — when under duress — into a position where if our guy doesn’t grab it, then no one will grab it.’’
Foles graded out better Thursday than he did in the game against the Colts, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said. After the Bears’ 20-19 victory, however, coach Matt Nagy complained about the offense’s frustrating lack of detail. DeFilippo listed four details he stresses to Foles: throwing on time; using proper footwork; not getting so deep in the pocket as to affect pass protection; and keeping his left shoulder pointed forward.
Practice gives Foles time to refine those physical skills. It also enables him and the coaching staff to test plays that make him comfortable on real grass, not in a Zoom meeting. That’s a critical step because Foles and Nagy still are working through what the offense should look like.
Foles is in his ninth season and has a Super Bowl MVP to his name. Coaches listen.
‘‘The longer a guy has been in the league, the more experience he’s seen and had and the more reps that he’s stored in his memory bank,’’ DeFilippo said. ‘‘I would say the veteran guys I’ve been around see things more from a 30,000-foot view than some of the younger guys.’’
Fox cameras caught Foles and Nagy having an animated sideline discussion Thursday. At issue was that Foles wanted to keep running an up-tempo offense in the previous possession, while Nagy instead sent in new personnel for a red-zone play he liked.
Like Nagy did, DeFilippo painted the discussion as healthy.
‘‘The quarterback almost has to be an extension of the play-caller and the play-caller almost has to be an extension of the quarterback,’’ he said. “We haven’t had that time yet here. I know that people want to [say that’s] an excuse, but . . . that’s reality.’’