Backup Foles re­spects Nagy’s de­ci­sion but waits in the wings

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - JA­SON LIESER jlieser@sun­ | @Ja­sonLieser

This doesn’t seem to be what the Bears or Nick Foles had in mind five months ago when the team traded a fourth-round pick for him and signed him to a three-year, $24 mil­lion con­tract.

He will be one of the most ex­pen­sive backup quar­ter­backs in the NFL af­ter the Bears opted to stick with Mitch Tru­bisky as their starter, but coach Matt Nagy did not con­sider this a case of buyer’s re­morse.

“No, not at all,” he said. Nagy did, how­ever, ad­mit that the lim­ited amount of work — the en­tire spring was wiped out, pre­sea­son games were can­celed and train­ing camp was 14 prac­tices — hin­dered the Bears’ ef­fort to turn Foles into the quar­ter­back they thought he could be when they made the trade.

“Be­cause of cir­cum­stances of hav­ing less time on the field ... now that I look back, I think that that prob­a­bly af­fected some things,” said Nagy, who orig­i­nally didn’t think that would be a fac­tor. “I think there is some of that there.

“With some time, I think he could have been in sit­u­a­tions where he per­formed [bet­ter], and re­ally it could’ve went one way or the other. But it didn’t. That’s where we’re at.”

The Bears jumped at Foles when quar­ter­backs of equal or greater tal­ent — Cam New­ton and Andy Dal­ton — were avail­able at min­i­mal cost. For his part, there’s prob­a­bly noth­ing Foles could have done dif­fer­ently.

He re­mained home in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia with his preg­nant wife amid a pan­demic un­til re­port­ing for the pre­sea­son, but there were no or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties or mini­camps for him to at­tend any­way. He didn’t ac­tu­ally miss any­thing, but that work would’ve helped.

Nonethe­less, Foles as­sessed him­self and Tru­bisky as “pretty even through­out the whole thing” and had no idea which one of them would win the job. He did not con­cede that Tru­bisky out­played him, but re­spected Nagy’s choice and pledged to sup­port Tru­bisky in every way.

He agreed with Nagy, though, that the three weeks of prac­tice weren’t his best work.

“I felt good out there,” Foles said. “Was I . . . where I want to be? No, I wasn’t, but that’s not based on foot­work or any­thing else. That’s based on the other cir­cum­stances that are out of your con­trol, where you are mov­ing your fam­ily, you’re with a new of­fense and you’re with new play­ers.

“You re­ally get a great time in the spring to go through OTAs and get those cob­webs out. That’s not an ex­cuse. That’s just a re­al­ity of it all.”

There’s con­so­la­tion for Foles: He might not be stuck as a backup for long.

Nagy didn’t like the topic of how short his leash would be on Tru­bisky, pre­fer­ring in­stead to cham­pion the feel-good story of him ral­ly­ing to keep his job. He dis­missed those thoughts as “just drama” on Sun­day, but it’s ob­vi­ously more than that be­cause Nagy ad­dressed the hy­po­thet­i­cal in the off­sea­son. He de­scribed it as a sea­son­long com­pe­ti­tion, so he’s not afraid to make a change.

Con­sid­er­ing Tru­bisky’s poor play last sea­son was ex­actly what ne­ces­si­tated the Foles trade, that’s cer­tainly a pos­si­bil­ity. Tru­bisky was fifth-worst in passer rat­ing (83) and last in yards per at­tempt (6.1) last sea­son, prompt­ing the Bears to de­cline his fifth-year op­tion and bring in com­pe­ti­tion.

“We can’t live in that drama world right now,” Nagy said.

It’s not re­ally up to him. Whether the Bears ven­ture into drama world is en­tirely in Tru­bisky’s hands, and while it’s a nice ac­com­plish­ment for him to hold on to his spot, he en­ters the sea­son with lit­tle lee­way and with Foles — the all-time hero of backup quar­ter­backs who won a Super Bowl MVP — ea­ger for the chance to show what he can do.

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