The Bears can spin their quarterback decision however they want, but coach Matt Nagy knows what he wants to do.
Despite him not saying whether he’ll go with Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles on Sunday against the Packers, everything points toward Trubisky. Foles didn’t practice Wednesday, and Nagy wouldn’t commit to him being the starter even if he recovers from the hip injury that knocked him out of the Vikings game last week.
“There’s a lot of factors involved in it right now,” Nagy said. “We’re looking at all that.
“We have to start with the availability. … [But] are there other factors involved? Absolutely.”
It’s clear what the Bears need to do. And based on how Nagy talked around Foles’ status and talked up Trubisky’s nice day of practice, he’s ready.
The fact that Foles is hurt actually makes this easier to navigate. It’s a handy excuse to change quarterbacks without Nagy looking indecisive and Foles feeling the sting of being benched.
Whether the Bears go with Trubisky or Foles won’t matter much, but everyone has seen enough from Foles to know he’s not saving this season. Trubisky isn’t either, but he’s better at running for his life and has a better chance behind a bedraggled offensive line.
There’s no doubt Nagy has been weighing this. He hinted as much when he said of his quarterbacks last week, “Whatever we need to do, we will do. … When you lose four games in a row, it’s all on the table. Everything’s out there.”
He trusted his instinct and chose Trubisky over the franchise’s pricey offseason acquisition — general manager Ryan Pace once again outbid himself by giving up a fourth-round pick for Foles, then committed to him on a three-year, $24 million contract that’s essentially fully guaranteed — after watching the two practice for a month.
Nagy went with his gut again in Week 3. Sick of Trubisky sputtering, he turned to Foles and watched him lead a fantastic comeback over the Falcons.
Great, but Foles has done almost nothing since. Most of all, he hasn’t been definitively better than Trubisky. And if Foles needs everything around to be perfect in order to succeed, as it was when he won the Super Bowl with the Eagles, then there’s a long line of cheaper quarterbacks who could’ve stepped in and done just as well. That includes Trubisky.
Would the Bears be any worse if they had stuck with him? Wouldn’t they likely be 5-5 either way?
Foles has taken 74% of the snaps and thrown 77% of the passes, so his fingerprints are all over an offense that sits 31st in scoring, yardage and red-zone success and is dead last in third-down conversions.
The Bears are 2-5 in Foles’ seven starts, and while he is far from their only problem, he has done very little to help. He is 24th in completion percentage (65.0), 26th in yards per game (231.5) and 28th in passer rating (81.0). He has 10 touchdown passes against eight interceptions.
Trubisky got benched with an 87.4 rating. No one thinks he’ll change everything for the Bears’ stumbling offense, and his career stats against the Packers offer little hope: 60.7% completions, 253 yards per game, four touchdowns and one interception for an 80.0 rating. The Bears went 1-4 in those games.
But as opposed to the cement-footed Foles, Trubisky contributes as a runner. He added 30.1 yards rushing per game in 2018 — the league’s worst running game could use that — and has a career average of 5.7 per carry.
If he adds that threat and isn’t a devastating dropoff from Foles as a passer, it’s worth it for the Bears to make the change. And since this is all under the cover of being because of Foles’ injury, Nagy can test it out and change his mind again if needed.