Bears QB Nick Foles getting no help from coach Matt Nagy, O-line or ground game
Great quarterbacks can succeed no matter what happens around them. Foles isn’t at that level. The Bears aren’t giving him anything near the help he had in his best seasons.
At Nick Foles’ absolute best — the version of him that the Bears dreamed about when they traded for him in March — he had so much more going for him than he does now. And everything he’s missing was glaring Monday against the Rams.
In 2013 and 2017 with the Eagles — he made the Pro Bowl in one season and was voted Super Bowl MVP in the other — Foles had multiple All-Pros on the offensive line, loads of talent around him and coaches who tailored their calls expertly to his abilities.
In that scenario, Foles can be a championship-caliber quarterback. In his current one, he’s playing at about the same level Mitch Trubisky was when he got benched.
Foles completed 28 of 40 passes for 261 yards with two interceptions for a season-low 66.8 passer rating against the Rams. That dropped him to 77.6 for the season, 10 points below Trubisky.
There are common threads in their struggles: a shaky offensive line, no ground game and a lack of cohesion with coach Matt Nagy.
The assumption when the Bears traded a fourth-round pick for Foles and committed $24 million over three seasons to him was that Nagy would work with him in ideal synchronization. So far, however, every week looks like the two are complete strangers.
Nagy has been trying to point that out all season, mentioning repeatedly that he never called plays for Foles when the two were together with the Chiefs and would need time to merge mentally. But how much longer is that going to take after five months in the offseason to plan for the possibility of Foles starting and five regular-season games?
The only thing Nagy and Foles collaborated on against the Rams was disaster.
Nagy loves tradition, and here’s one he has honored well: calling short pass plays on third down. Throwing two yards short of the first down has been an essential element of the Bears’ identity for about three decades.
On third-and-seven in the first quarter, Foles threw to running back Cordarrelle Patterson two yards behind the line of scrimmage. It happened again on third-and-five in the second quarter, when Foles hit Darnell Mooney two yards short and Rams safety Terrell Burgess stopped him immediately.
That’s not getting them anywhere against a good defense such as that of the Rams.
Foles also had the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack in 2013 and its No. 3 rushing attack in 2017. He has one that was ranked 31st entering the game and is plunging rapidly toward the bottom.
The Bears mustered 49 yards rushing, and the sad part is that wasn’t their season low. They’ve had two worse performances. They averaged 2.9 yards per carry, their best mark in the last four games.
There are a lot of pieces to that pitiful puzzle. The offensive line never makes it look easy, and David Montgomery isn’t good enough to overcome that. Then there’s the ongoing internal conflict for Nagy, who doesn’t seem to want to run in the first place and doesn’t trust his players to figure it out.
It’s completely unpredictable — in a bad way — when he’s going to call a run. He rarely did it in the first half against the Panthers last week, but he chose to run from his own 25-yard line with no timeouts during a two-minute drill and threw on third-and-short when the Bears were trying to kill the clock near the end.
In an un-Nagy-like move Monday, he followed convention and ran on fourth-and-one in the third quarter. It still had his fingerprints on it, though. Rather than have someone plow through the line, it was a hopeless pitch to Patterson for a two-yard loss.
And plenty of plays never even got going, thanks to issues with the offensive line.
Right guard Germain Ifedi sunk the Bears’ opening drive with a holding penalty that turned a likely first down into second-and-12.
Foles might have converted a fourth-and-inches at his own 19-yard line — an extremely gutsy call by Nagy midway through the second quarter — if not for left guard Rashaad Coward committing a false start.
On Foles’ final push of the first half, looking to tie the score at 10, it was hard to tell if the Bears even had an offensive line. From the Rams’ 43-yard line, needing maybe another five yards to consider a field-goal attempt, Foles got sacked twice and the Bears punted on fourth-and-21.
Even Foles’ signature play of the season, his game-winning touchdown pass against the Falcons, came on a play in which he got demolished so quickly that he never saw Anthony Miller make the catch.
The best quarterbacks will find a way, regardless of everything disintegrating around them, but Foles can’t. That Super Bowl MVP trophy is misleading by putting him in a club with Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He can play well in an offense that’s perfectly coached, perfectly stocked with weapons and perfectly fortified up front, but the Bears are miles away from providing him with any of that.