Five weeks after coach Matt Nagy benched Mitch Trubisky, the Bears still are waiting for the Nick Foles bump.
The veteran Foles provided an immediate boost when he replaced Trubisky early in the third quarter against the Falcons. He threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally the Bears from a 26-10 deficit to a thrilling 30-26 victory that improved their record to 3-0.
But in five games as the starter, Foles has been unable to boost the Bears’ offense to a new level. The offense has scored 11, 20, 23, 3 and 23 points for an average of 16.0.
The 23 points against the Saints in a 26-23 overtime loss Sunday look good on paper, but that total ties for the fewest points New Orleans has allowed this season — and below its average of 28.1 points allowed per game. The Chargers, with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert throwing four touchdown passes, scored 27 points against the Saints.
Foles has a passer rating of 78.1 in his five starts (five touchdown passes, six interceptions). Trubisky had an 87.4 passer rating in his three starts (six touchdown passes, three interceptions).
What’s the deal with that?
“I would go to the entire offense; there are 11 people involved,” Nagy explained Monday. “And then there’s coaching involved, as well.’’
Nagy hinted that the supporting cast has had an impact on the effectiveness of both quarterbacks.
“We know what we see on tape, I’ll say that,” Nagy said. “And we’re able to evaluate what we see. And that’s our job, to watch what we see as coaches on tape and then we evaluate what we see and make judgments off that.”
Foles’ inability to boost the Bears’ offense has been a disappointment but not a stunning development. He has had his own hurdles to overcome. To wit:
† Foles has faced a higher degree of difficulty. He has played against three defenses that rank in the top 10 in yards allowed and points allowed: the Colts’ defense (third in yards, fifth in points), the Buccaneers’ (first and seventh) and the Rams’ (second and fourth). The Panthers’ defense (15th and 13th) is in the upper half. Even the Saints, though they’re allowing those 28.1 points per game, are eighth in total defense.
Trubisky, on the other hand, faced the Lions (22nd in yards, 26th in points), Giants (13th and 14th) and Falcons (28th and 22nd). Against the one team both quarterbacks faced — the Falcons — Trubisky had a 71.8 rating and Foles a 95.2 rating, and the win.
† The offensive line has broken down under Foles. The Bears’ starting five offensive linemen — left tackle Charles Leno, left guard James Daniels, center Cody Whitehair, right guard Germain Ifedi and right tackle Bobby Massie — played through the first three games.
But after Foles took over, Daniels suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle against the Buccaneers, Whitehair suffered a calf injury against the Rams and Massie suffered a knee injury in the first quarter against the Saints.
The Bears actually ran the ball better than they have since Foles took over — 96 yards on 23 carries (4.2 average) — against the Saints. But they paid a price in protection. He was sacked five times, including twice on the Bears’ lone overtime possession. So injuries have exposed the most obvious downgrade in the quarterback switch — Foles’ limited mobility and escapability — though Nagy said only the last sack in overtime was on Foles for not getting rid of the ball.
“That’s just where we’re at,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘We understand that. We have to be able to have honest evaluations through all that. We had some luxury early in the season with consistency on the offensive line. And now, it’s new pieces, new voices. Guys are battling through stuff. We have to make sure we look at the whole big picture with this.”
Presumably, Nagy is hoping the line settles in once Whitehair returns and Rashaad Coward gets acclimated to left guard. And when the Bears aren’t playing top-10 defenses, Foles will have a better chance to get in a groove. Once the playing field is a little more level, the evaluation of Foles figures to be a little more critical.