Nick Foles a litmus test for Matt Nagy’s offense

Foles’ history is pretty consistent: In a bad offense, he’s ineffectual. In a good offense, he’s a difference-maker. Sunday’s game against the Colts is a key test for Foles — and Nagy’s offense.

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Bears quarterback Nick Foles (left) congratulates wide receiver Anthony Miller on his touchdown reception against the Falcons.

Bears quarterback Nick Foles (9) celebrates with wide receiver Anthony Miller (17) after the two combined on a 28-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bears a 30-26 lead over the Falcons in the fourth quarter.

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Nick Foles is not a miracle worker.

Last year with the Jaguars, Foles made his first start in 10 weeks against the Colts, replacing Gardner Minshew after recovering from a broken collarbone he suffered in the season opener. 

He was good but not great — and unable to will the woeful Jaguars to a different level. He threw for 296 yards, with two touchdown passes — one in garbage time — one interception and a 92.2 passer rating in a 33-13 loss. 

A year earlier, when he replaced an injured Carson Wentz in Week 14, he was statistically similar, but good enough to lead the Eagles to a 30-23 victory over the Rams that kept Philadelphia’s playoff hopes alive. Foles threw for 270 yards and had no touchdown passes, an interception and an 89.4 rating. The Eagles survived after a last-play incomplete pass at the goal line. 

The following week, he was magnificent, throwing for an Eagles-record 471 yards and four touchdowns and leading a winning field-goal drive in the last two minutes against the Texans. 

It was the continuation of virtually a careerlong trend for Foles. In a bad offense, he’s mediocre or ineffectual. In a good offense, he’s a difference-maker. 

That brings us to Foles’ first start for the Bears on Sunday against the Colts at Soldier Field. It’s another test of Foles’ impressive resilience and performance as a replacement quarterback. But it’s a bigger test of coach Matt Nagy’s ability to do what he was hired to do — build an offense that a good quarterback can take to another level. 

History shows it’s the offense that makes Foles a winner. Quarterbacks don’t come much more steady, even-keeled and unflappable than Foles. It’s not like his demeanor changes when he’s on the 2018 Eagles or the 2015 Rams. He needs a team he can win with.

The early returns were impressive last week, when Foles worked his magic. After getting two touchdowns nullified, he threw three touchdown passes in the last 6:20 to lead the Bears to a 30-26 victory over the Falcons. Foles’ passer rating was 95.1 — with a touchdown pass that was unexpectedly ruled an interception upon review.

Now Foles goes in with a full week of preparation, which figures to be a bonus. 

“I feel really comfortable,” Foles said. “Going into this week, there have been a lot of great conversations. Even [against the Falcons], I felt more of myself when I stepped into that situation, just playing and getting to do things that I like to do in a chaotic situation. I’m definitely more comfortable than I was.” 

If Foles’ performance against the Falcons was an accurate reflection of the Bears’ offense — that it’s closer to the Eagles’ offense than the Jaguars’ — the best may be yet to come. In well-oiled offenses, Foles has staying power — a 14-3 record with a 107.6 passer rating (36 touchdown passes, seven interceptions) in the regular season as an in-season replacement starter. 

And in the second game as a replacement in those offenses — the situation he’s in against Indianapolis — Foles is 4-0 with ratings of 133.3, 86.3, 115.8 and 120.4 (12 touchdown passes, one interception). 

So we’ll learn a little more about Foles on Sunday. And a lot more about Nagy’s offense. 

“This week will be great to practice and get a preparation week and go through plays and study the plays and watch practice [tape] and fine-tune everything,” Foles said. “I’m hoping by game time, we’ve grown even more.”

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