For all the hope the Bears put in quarterback Nick Foles to save their season, they never have been so delusional to think he can do it alone.
Foles can give them a steadier hand at quarterback than Mitch Trubisky, but — like Trubisky — he needs everything around him to be steady to succeed. That means more Foles-centric play-calling from coach Matt Nagy, viable offensive line play and precise route-running from his receivers.
Nagy, ever the optimist, thinks the game Sunday against the Panthers will be the breakthrough for Foles after three weeks of accuracy struggles and other woes.
‘‘Probably what we’ll see is the more and more he plays and gets comfortable in this system with these players, the more and more accurate he’s going to become,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘We start to filter through the likes and dislikes [for Foles in the playbook], and then you talk about going out there and doing it.
‘‘But I really feel like, at least this week in practice, I was really happy with the way that the offense practiced. . . . The offense really did a good job of just executing and the accuracies and that sort of thing [Friday], and that usually transfers to Sunday. But we’ll see.’’
Through 2 1/2 games, Foles’s numbers are mostly a continuation of what Trubisky did. Foles has completed 64% of his passes (Trubisky: 59%), posted an 83.9 passer rating (Trubisky: 87.4) and averaged six yards per pass (Trubisky: 6.5).
For his career, including playoff games, Foles has completed 63% of his passes and has an 89.1 rating with 87 touchdowns against 43 interceptions. His numbers in 2017 and 2018 with the Eagles were slightly better.
And while there are signs Foles is settling in, his most recent submission showed there’s a lot of work to do on his precision.
Facing third-and-two on the Bears’ opening drive against the Buccaneers, Foles overthrew Allen Robinson so egregiously that Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck editorialized:‘‘Terrible throw. . . . That’s about as simple as it gets.’’ His broadcast partner, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, added: ‘‘It’s an easy completion. You just can’t miss those.’’
Foles had some other brutal misses, including one deep to Darnell Mooney that inexplicably was maybe 10 feet off.
‘‘Wow,’’ Aikman blurted. ‘‘Nowhere near him. When Trubisky missed a throw like that against Atlanta, he got benched a few plays later.’’
Foles also underthrew Mooney streaking down the left side of the field with three minutes left. Rather than catch it in stride for the go-ahead touchdown, Mooney fought as hard as he could merely to prevent an interception.
‘‘It doesn’t just happen overnight,’’ Foles said. ‘‘It’s never happened overnight — ever — in my career. . . . That’s a process, and we continue to take steps forward. I don’t know if there will ever be an arrival moment, but I just want us to keep getting better and better and better.’’
Don’t rule out the arrival moment, though. Nagy might be on to something.
Despite some ugly misses, Foles has progressed. His completion percentage jumped from 55% against the Falcons to 62% against the Colts to 71% against the Bucs.
Film review of every Foles pass shows his accuracy also rose each week: 56%, 64%, 68%. Trubisky was accurate on 61% of his passes when he got demoted.
What Nagy has pleaded for throughout his three seasons as coach is for the quarterbacks to stop missing ‘‘layups,’’ as former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich called them. That means seeing the open receivers and hitting them. Nagy certainly has flaws, but it’s exasperating to scheme a play so expertly and watch the pass sail wildly away from an open receiver.
If he adapts his play-calls to fit Foles’ strengths and Foles keeps improving his accuracy, Nagy might get the breakthrough he imagines.