QB Nick Foles no ‘magic wand’ for Bears’ offense, but that’s what they need

Foles hasn’t played any better than Mitch Trubisky so far. Maybe that was to be expected considering he was rushed in without a full offseason. But how long can he and the Bears use that excuse?

SHARE QB Nick Foles no ‘magic wand’ for Bears’ offense, but that’s what they need
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Foles has an 80.4 passer rating in four games since taking over for Mitch Trubisky, who was at 87.4.

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The Bears traded a fourth-round pick rather than sign a free agent.

They committed to $24 million over three years rather than pick someone up on the veteran’s minimum.

They benched a previous first-round pick whom they still hoped would have a breakthrough.

All that for Nick Foles?

Anyone who believed Foles would launch the Bears’ offense from pitiful to passable has crashed back to reality after four games in which he hasn’t been any better than Mitch Trubisky.

It’s fine for Foles to need some time to acclimate after being thrown into a game in Week 3, playing for a new team without the benefit of offseason practices, but there has to be an expiration date on that excuse. The grace period is over, and it’s time to take a hard look at Foles’ play, beginning Monday against the Rams.

As he often did when Trubisky was the starter, coach Matt Nagy steered questions about Foles’ struggles toward the Bears’ offense as a whole.

“When I made the decision [to turn to Foles], I knew it wasn’t going to be like a magic wand where just all of a sudden he comes in and lights it up,” Nagy said. “That wasn’t going to happen.”

No, that actually did happen. Foles lit it up quite nicely against the Falcons in his debut. And maybe that’s where the disconnect lies. He threw three touchdown passes (almost four) in a stunning fourth-quarter comeback and rocketed expectations to a height he can’t consistently reach.

In the three games since, Foles has averaged nearly one yard less per attempt and been nearly 10 points lower in passer rating than Trubisky was. Throwing accuracy, decision-making and overall cohesion aren’t any less of a problem for the Bears than the day they changed quarterbacks.

It was clear Nagy had big dreams when the Bears acquired Foles from the Jaguars in March. (By the way, is there any clearer indication of how badly they mismanaged their quarterback situation than their attempt to clean up a draft bust with someone the Jaguars didn’t want?) The argument for Foles over Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and other available quarterbacks was that Foles knew this offense expertly from all his years under Andy Reid and Reid’s protégés. That seems to have been oversold.

“I’m in this offense, but it’s not like I’m stepping into my Philadelphia offense and I can go run it like I did in Philadelphia,” Foles said. “I’m starting over.

“But the ultimate thing is we’re finding ways to win. . . . This is a part of the game that goes back to not losing belief that you will get better if you do the little things right daily.”

The sooner the better.

Nagy asked for patience with Foles on Thursday, saying, “It’s going to take a little bit of time.” The Bears don’t really have that luxury, despite being 5-1. Their next three games are against the 4-2 Rams, 3-2 Saints and 5-0 Titans, and the effort that got them past the Panthers likely won’t suffice.

And while Nagy is correct that the offensive issues are many, the Bears need Foles to minimize those. So far, he hasn’t. His 76.9 passer rating the last three weeks ranked 24th among 27 quarterbacks who threw at least 60 passes. The Bears were 29th in scoring (18 points per game) and last in yardage (257.7).

“The good thing is that we understand we’ve got to get better,” Nagy said. “But there’s no sense of urgency where you start getting concerned one way or the other [about Foles]. There’s really not.”

You know what? He’s right. Having played just 3 ½ games, Foles deserves some slack. But that ends now. That’s enough time to get settled, and this three-week stretch is huge for the Bears. It’s time for Foles to deliver.

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