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Mitch Trubisky vs. Nick Foles: Does it matter?

Bears coach Matt Nagy called it a “big decision,” but he acknowledged that picking a winner might not end the competition. ‘‘You don’t know — for several reasons — how that’s going to go,’’ he said.

Chicago Bears Training Camp
Neither Mitch Trubisky (10) nor Nick Foles (9) has separated himself in the Bears’ open competition for the starting quarterback job. Coach Matt Nagy is expected to name a winner by next Wednesday.
Photo by Nam Y. Huh-Pool/Getty Images

Bears coach Matt Nagy chuckled when asked if he was going to flip a coin to pick a starting quarterback if Mitch Trubisky vs. Nick Foles is a dead heat. But unless one or the other makes a terrific surge this week, it might be that close.

“Well . . . we’re definitely not gonna toss a coin,” Nagy said. “But we’ve had those discussions before this camp even started. We hit every scenario possible. It’s a very valid question.”

The last time a coin flip affected the Bears’ quarterback situation, Ed McCaskey called heads to determine the No. 1 overall pick in the 1970 draft. It came up tails. The Steelers drafted Terry Bradshaw; the Bears were stuck with Jack Concannon and Bobby Douglass — and the rest is history. So maybe they’re due.

As it stands right now, a coin flip wouldn’t be the worst way to go. Maybe inside their Halas Hall offices, Nagy, John DeFilippo, Bill Lazor and Dave Ragone see the little things we don’t that indicate one or the other would be the best quarterback. But neither quarterback has a history of being better than the offense around him. Foles was great in an Eagles offense that developed around Carson Wentz, but he was just another guy with the Rams and Jaguars.

So Nagy also was asked after practice Saturday at Soldier Field if it matters. How critical is this decision for him? Is there a “right” guy and a “wrong” guy? Does he think he’ll go 12-4 with one and 8-8 (or worse) with the other?

“Well, it’s a big decision,” Nagy said. “You want to do what’s best for the team — and we told y’all from the very beginning that there’s zero agenda in this. There are going to be some very open and honest conversations. We’ve had some of those.”

But Nagy indicated he’s also prepared for the reality that there isn’t much difference. And that the loser might end up being the winner. At this point, the odds seem poor that the winner will be playing the entire season — as Kyle Orton virtually did in 2008 (15 starts) after beating out Rex Grossman in the Bears’ previous open competition for the starting quarterback job.

“Whoever you end up naming the starter, you don’t know — for several reasons — how that’s going to go,” Nagy said. “You want to name a starter and . . . just win, win, win. You don’t know if that’s going to happen — whether that’s [because of] not playing well [or] injury. You have to be able to adapt to that.

“But at the same time, we realize this is a very important decision — not just for us but for them, too. And they know the decision is in their hands. And then ultimately there’s going to come a time where you have to [pick a winner]. The starter better be ready to go, and the backup better be ready, as well.”

Based on what we’ve seen so far, it would not be a surprise if Trubisky or Foles is under center against the Lions on Sept. 13. Nagy has justifications for choosing one or the other:

† Trubisky is the more naturally talented quarterback and still has the potential to develop into an Alex Smith type of leader if not the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. If the Bears don’t believe that, then Trubisky never should have been in the running for this job in the first place.

† Even if he’s not in sync with the offense right now, Foles is the more sound, technically proficient quarterback — and, with his Super Bowl MVP credentials, has the credibility to grow into the leadership role as he becomes acclimated to Nagy’s offense and develops chemistry with his new teammates.

Either way, Nagy doesn’t seem to have a difficult choice. Right now, it appears the offense will make the Bears quarterback rather than the other way around. And one bit of advice for Nagy: As McCaskey found out the hard way, tails never fails.