I used this space on Friday to explain why I consider Nick Foles the undisputed favorite of the Bears’ starting quarterback in week 1 of the 2020 season. Based on the information we have, it’s easy to see why. the Poles are expected to beat Mitch Trubisky in the Bears “open competition”.
And I really believe it will happen. But I want to recognize something here, an unknown kind: we don’t know how Trubisky will manage a legitimate competition.
“The competitor that Mitch is, the way he was with us was really nice to see because he kissed him,” said Matt Nagy. “It wasn’t an apology, it wasn’t anything other than, ‘OK, I understand that, I’m going to give you everything I have, we’re going to compete, and you’re going to get better than i have. “
Nagy and Ryan Pace both talked about Trubisky’s competitive nature during the Polish trade discussion for about 40 minutes on Friday. That’s all they can talk about at this point – anything else about his game or past results would have been hot air. Competitiveness may also be hot air.
But that raises a question that persisted as Trubisky’s career drifted into disappointing territory, so follow my tangent: why was he not the quarterback leaving North Carolina earlier in college?
Trubisky sat behind Marquise Williams for two and a half seasons before taking over as Tarheel’s QB1 in 2016. Williams spent a training camp with the Green Bay Packers before being eliminated and spent the next few years as a replacement in the CFL, the AAC and the XFL.
Trubisky – second choice overall in the 2017 draft – couldn’t beat this guy? Huh?
The thing is, there wasn’t really any competition at Chapel Hill for the Tarheels’s starting concert. Williams QB had five straight wins to bring North Carolina to a bowl game in 2013, then was pretty good in six wins in 2014. North Carolina was 11-1 in 2015, the third year of Trubisky on campus, with Williams as a guy.
Former UNC quarterback Keith Heckendorf told me after the 2017 draft why there was no real competition for Trubisky to win.
“The success we had as a team with Marquise made it difficult to withdraw from the team,” said Heckendorf. “And I think if (Williams’ success in 2013) hadn’t happened, there could be a completely different conversation. It was not for lack of talent, it was not because (Trubisky) was not capable, but it is difficult to take a successful guy – not only as a winning team but individually – as Marquise had and put her on the bench for an unproven product. “
Of course, if Trubisky cleared things up for training and limited game officials, he would have forced the hand of the UNC. He did not do it.
But the fact is, Trubisky’s failure to win an early college concert was not necessarily the product of his loss from an open competition. He pushed Mike Glennon as a rookie in 2017, but he didn’t show up for training camp in a real “battle” (especially since he did the offense as a third team). He succeeded Glennon because, first and foremost, Glennon was a disaster.
So we don’t really know how he will handle a competition that the Bears describe as fair and equal.
Could Trubisky suddenly grow up with the challenge of his job? Could the mere presence of Foles force him to start hitting deeper balls, or to do the right readings on the line, or to help him avoid these scratching interceptions?
Probably not. Football guys love to say that competition brings out the best in everyone, but it’s hard to see that it wipes away three years of inconsistent tape.
But we don’t know for sure. For what it’s worth, it worked for Kyle Fuller three years ago, when the Bears signed Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara and he ended up going back to his old job and then keeping it.
Trubisky also has more advantages than Foles. The Bears far prefer to start the version of Trubisky Pace hoping he would get in 2017 rather than a 31-year-old with 13 starts in the past four years.
Still, Foles will most likely be the Bears’ starter when the 2020 season begins (hopefully on time). But the Bears should at least take a look at Trubisky in a real competition.
It doesn’t have to be long. But it should be a look.
Click here to download the new NBC Sports MyTeams app! Get full bear coverage.