Doomed to mediocrity?
Opting to stick with Trubisky at quarterback could be disservice to great defense
This has to be a joke. Maybe it’s one of those pranks that sounds funny until you actually do it. But the only ones the Bears are fooling are themselves.
After everything Chicago has seen from Mitch Trubisky and everything the team gave up to get Nick Foles, their decision to keep Trubisky as the starting quarterback is one more reason to question the judgment of general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy.
Neither quarterback is great, which is why no one separated himself as the clear choice the last three weeks. Nagy admitted Thursday he saw negligible difference between the two.
Foles was sharper in the final two practices open to the media, and his overall résumé, though flawed, offers more cause for confidence than Trubisky’s.
The last thing this team needs is more Trubisky. How exactly does Nagy break this news to his defense after Trubisky sank a ship that could’ve sailed to the Super Bowl?
Remember the opener when the Bears smothered Aaron Rodgers and held the Packers to 10 points? That was a loss.
So was the Chargers game, when Trubisky blew it with an interception and a non-contact fumble in the fourth quarter to fall 17-16. So was the next week in Philadelphia, when Trubisky led the offense to nine total yards in the first half.
The Bears lost five times when holding the opponent to 22 points or fewer. NFL teams at large won 77% of the time when their defense played that well.
The Bears wasted a defense that allowed the fourth-fewest points and finished 8-8 thanks largely to a starting quarterback who finished 28th in passer rating (83) and dead last in yards per attempt (6.1).
For Trubisky, that season was marked by total collapses and repeatedly missing plays that coaches called “lay-ups” because of inaccurate throws or bad reads. It ended with Nagy lamenting that he didn’t have a firmer grasp of the playbook and better ability to decipher coverages.
Somehow those concerns evaporated and the Bears have convinced themselves again that Trubisky is their best shot.
Concurrently, they went from believing so strongly that Foles would be an upgrade that they traded a fourth-round pick for him and committed to three years, $24 million to assessing that he’s actually a downgrade.
It makes you wonder how much of a voice Pace had in the decision — Nagy said they’d work together on it — and whether he’s capable of being objective about a player he traded up to take No. 2 overall in 2017. He explains the chasm between Trubisky and the quarterbacks he missed — MVP and champion Patrick Mahomes, electric two-time Pro Bowler Deshaun Watson — by saying different players develop at different speeds.
And he’s desperate for Nagy to squeeze an adequate season out of him. The problem, now and potentially in future seasons, is that adequate is the absolute ceiling for Trubisky. He was barely that in 2018, his alleged breakout season, when he erupted for six touchdowns against the Bucs and posted an 89 passer rating over his other 14 games (playoffs included).
The worst thing for the Bears is for Trubisky to get this job and play just well enough for them to win nine games. That’s not a great season regardless of whether it gets them in the playoffs. And if the Bears reward that with a contract extension, they’ll be agreeing to mediocrity at quarterback for years to come.
That’s incredibly sad and only delays the necessary step of fishing for the next aspiring franchise quarterback in the upcoming draft.
Foles, meanwhile, has had shortfalls but has a stack of big performances in big games, too. He’s also the ideal bridge to a first-round quarterback in the 2021 draft.
But as it’s been for most of the Bears’ century of existence, their quarterback situation is far from ideal. At least we’re used to it. ✶
Mitch Trubisky finished 28th in passer rating in 2019 and was last in yards per attempt. But he was named the starting quarterback over Nick Foles.