Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles? For the Bears, there is no right answer at QB
The Bears’ loftiest hope was that one of these guys could be a league-average quarterback. That proved to be far too rosy an outlook.
It’s a new twist on a Bears tradition.
This season, instead of trying to convince ourselves that the current quarterback is on the cusp of a breakthrough, every week we wonder whether they should go back to the other quarterback.
Mitch Trubisky sputters through the first two games, so maybe Nick Foles is the answer. Foles falls flat for weeks, so it’s time to go back to Trubisky for a spark. Trubisky coughs up the ball left and right against the Packers, so what the team really needs is the safer, though less potent, choice of Foles.
We could do this all season. And maybe coach Matt Nagy will, too, although he’ll stick with Trubisky against the Lions on Sunday even though Foles returned to practice Wednesday.
But after nearly three years of working with Trubisky and a reasonable amount of time with Foles, even Nagy doesn’t know which one suits his offense better.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “Both guys, for different reasons at times, I thought decision-making had been good. And both guys have had issues, as well. . . . They both have their strengths, and that’s what we try to work off of.”
Of course, he can’t figure it out. You know how kindergarten teachers ask kids a question and encourage them by saying there are no wrong answers? This is a scenario in which there is no right one.
Trubisky isn’t it. Foles isn’t it. Their entire careers, except for sporadic bright spots, were conclusive evidence before this season ever started. The last three months have only corroborated that.
If these were the Bears’ two choices, there was very little chance of succeeding. Trubisky had three seasons of film in which he repeated the same mistakes, and Foles got dumped by the Jaguars. When you’re rummaging through the Jaguars’ discards for a quarterback, you’re generally not in a good place as a franchise.
The loftiest hope was that one of them could be a league-average quarterback and the Bears’ defense would carry them to a double-digit win total and a playoff berth.
Oh, to be average. How the Bears long for a just-OK quarterback.
Instead, Trubisky (83.0) and Foles (81.0) are 27th and 29th, respectively, in passer rating among the 38 players with at least 100 passes. Someone named Nick Mullens is outpacing both of them.
The argument for Trubisky starts with his running ability, but the Packers took that off the table and forced him to win with his arm. He can’t. He threw two interceptions and fumbled on a sack, all leading to touchdowns.
“The main thing is taking care of the football,” Trubisky said. “It’s easy to say, a little bit harder to do.”
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t think it’s that hard.
Foles is more careful with the ball, but he seems out of sync with Nagy, and he’s still a liability. He had thrown the seventh-most interceptions in the NFL before his injury. The one he threw against the Panthers, when he blew a scoring opportunity by backpedaling 14 yards and heaving one off his back foot into a crowd, was the Bears’ most galling turnover in a season full of them.
What happens next is predictable. Trubisky will play decently against the Lions and win — not because he has some superpower, but because that’s what virtually everyone has done against the Lions the last three seasons. They’ve gone 13-29-1 and allowed a 100-plus passer rating to 25 of 43 opposing quarterbacks.
Regardless, we’ll all start half-seriously wondering if he’s on to something.
“I think we focus on doing our jobs, going 1-0 and continuing to stay positive and just believe that we can change it around,” Trubisky said. “It takes one game.”
Just one game for everyone to fall for it again. And, after he inevitably runs aground again, they’ll call for Foles again. And again. And again.