Starting Nick Foles is logical conclusion to Bears’ illogical handling of QBs
Foles will start against the Seahawks only because, for the first time this season, both of the quarterbacks ahead of him are hurt at the same time.
One hundred and forty-four days before the Bears named third-stringer Nick Foles the starting quarterback for their game Sunday against the Seahawks in Seattle, he took to the podium at Halas Hall and lobbied for a way out.
Foles was perturbed with the storyline that he was a willing third-stringer — maybe the most accomplished practice-squad quarterback in NFL history! — and thought other teams might be interested in trading for him. They had tried earlier in the offseason, Foles said, but he was waiting for the right fit.
‘‘Listen, I’m 32; I feel great,’’ he said. ‘‘The version of me right now is much better than the version that played in the Super Bowl [with the Eagles], I’ll tell you that. And I’m confident in that. So put that through your mind.’’
The Bears didn’t agree, obviously.
Neither did any other team in the NFL.
Foles has stood on the sideline and watched Andy Dalton and Justin Fields get hurt — then get hurt again — and still hasn’t found his way onto the field. He will start against the Seahawks only because, for the first time this season, both quarterbacks above him are hurt at the same time. Fields’ ankle injury got worse last week, and Dalton came off the reserve/COVID-19 list but struggled with a groin injury during practice.
When Foles does start, it will be the logical conclusion to the Bears’ completely illogical handling of their quarterbacks all season long.
The Bears signed Dalton last spring to be their starter, then were stunned when Fields fell far enough in the draft for them to swing a trade for him. But coach Matt Nagy refused to open the competition for the starting job, leaving Fields to spend most of training camp throwing to backups.
General manager Ryan Pace, of course, traded for Foles in March 2020, only to watch him win two games in seven starts. Foles’ 80.8 passer rating was so bad that Pace couldn’t find a taker for him a year later. The Bears restructured Foles’ contract into a three-year, $24 million deal after acquiring him from the Jaguars, but that deal proved overpriced after one season, making him impossible to move when he became the most qualified practice-squad quarterback in history.
The whole thing was ridiculous in the moment, much less in hindsight. But it was no more ridiculous than the situation the Bears will be in Sunday: starting someone to whom they remain in an arranged marriage simply because a divorce is too expensive.
It will be what the Bears deserve.
‘‘I know he’s a competitor, and I know that he understands this is a great opportunity for him, too, on a personal level, to be able to help our team out and help him out,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘So I think . . . in this situation, it ends up being good for us and good for him.’’
It’s good for Foles and his loved ones. This might be the last start of his NFL career.
It’s not good for the franchise, however. Fields needs every snap he can get, even in a game that means little. Dalton has won as many games in four starts as Fields has in 10.
Foles? He has taken as many snaps this season — zero — as the number of interviews he has given since that day in August.
‘‘There’s not a lot of teams that, in this situation, can go to a quarterback like Nick to be able to help you win a football game and feel really good about it,’’ Nagy said.
Nagy meant that as a compliment. It’s not.