Coach Matt Nagy should have emerged from his bye-week bunker Monday with something bold to say. He should have declared that, with a week’s worth of film review, it was clear — to him, to the players and to anyone with eyes — that the offense was in need of a change.
He should have stressed how important Mitch Trubisky — yes, the failed No. 2 overall pick — was to sparking his damp matchbook of an offense over the last six weeks of the season.
He should have named Trubisky the starter for the game Sunday night against the Packers right away — presuming, of course, that his balky right shoulder holds up to a week’s worth of practice.
I mean, everything was on the table during the bye week, right?
Nagy could have been declarative. He could have fired up a fan base that had grown tired of Nick Foles doing his best terra-cotta-soldier impersonation behind an offensive line that mandates someone who can run with abandon. Nagy could have made the same sales pitch he did when he named Trubisky the season-opening starter: that he’ll make for a great comeback story someday.
Instead, Nagy began his news conference by saying he wouldn’t offer an injury update on his quarterbacks until Wednesday.
It’s possible Nagy wants to give Trubisky and Foles an extra two days to heal. It’s more likely, though, that he didn’t want to give the Packers an extra 48 hours’ notice before the first league-mandated injury report, which is due Wednesday. Not that the Packers would need the heads-up — they’ve beaten Trubisky four times in five tries.
It’s clear Trubisky is the healthier option. He practiced Monday for the first time since injuring his right shoulder Nov. 1 on a wildcat run against the Saints, his only snap since getting benched in the third game. In the open period of a light 90-minute practice, Trubisky ran and stretched with his helmet on.
Foles, who hurt his hip in the last minute of the Bears’ 19-13 loss to the Vikings on Nov. 16, was nowhere to be seen.
“With where both of these guys are at and their injuries, that’s what we’re kinda working through right now, to see exactly where they’re at,” Nagy said. “The good thing for us coming off the bye is, it happened [before] the bye for Nick, and now we’re able to kind of, day by day, just see where he’s at. We’re going through and trying to figure out, OK, health-wise, where they’re at.”
That’s the easier of two questions. The second — Does Trubisky give them a better chance to move the ball? — should also be answered in the affirmative.
In Nagy’s last two news conferences, he has passed on any opportunity to squelch a quarterback controversy. Asked whether he’d switch quarterbacks on merit, Nagy said last Tuesday that “it’s all on the table” when fixing the offense. He repeated that again six days later but said little else.
“Coming through the bye, like I said, us evaluating where we’re at as a team, as an offense, all of that is on the table,” Nagy said. “We had the ability to get away for a little bit, us as coaches, and do what we need to do individually away from the building or some of us at the building, but for the most part, we’re just gonna kinda get till Wednesday and just see exactly where both these guys are at.”
Picking a starter Wednesday would give the Bears three more practices with their quarterback written in pen. If it’s a change — and that seems likely — wide receiver Allen Robinson said it won’t take long to get caught up with the new passer.
“As far as getting on the same page, just practicing,” he said. “It’s not anything different. It’s just going out there and getting the reps and trying to fine-tune as much as we can.
“But I don’t think it’s rocket science. It would just be me going out there, being myself, trying to make the quarterback’s job easy, like I’ve been trying to do from Day 1. So it’s just the same. Maybe fine-tune some different things through some different post-practice [work]. But I don’t feel like that would be too difficult in any way.”
Naming Trubisky the starter Wednesday seems likely — presuming he’s healthy — unless Nagy has suddenly turned desperate. He has been frank about similar changes all season long, from naming Foles the starter to benching himself as play-caller.
Nagy hinted in late August that he’d wait until minutes before the Lions game to name his starter. Two days later, he backtracked.
“There will be no waiting until the middle of [next] week or the end of the week for that to happen,” he said then. “That wouldn’t be fair to our team, and it wouldn’t be fair to the quarterbacks.”
The same should have been true Monday.