Prior to this season, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has not been challenged all that much — by other quarterbacks on the field, or by his coaches. Ever since Trubisky took over for the woeful Mike Glennon Week 5 in 2017, he has been the guy in Chicago. Chase Daniel was brought in as a mentor, not a competitor, and there has been a running narrative that the Bears have coddled the fourth-year quarterback quite a bit.
Analysts and former executives alike have suggested this, and former personnel director for the Philadelphia Eagles and current ESPN personality Louis Riddick, who worked with Nagy in Philly from 2008-2012, thinks the Bears’ coach is done playing nice with his young quarterback.
“You have to take off the kid gloves with him now. It’s time. I promise you … I promise you that’s what you’re going to see happen in Chicago. The kid gloves are going to come off with him,” Riddick said in February, before the Bears traded for Nick Foles. “I think you will see a rejuvenated … very, very animated … demanding head coach and offensive staff that is going to let him (Trubisky) know, ‘It’s time, bro. It’s time to play.'”
Based on head coach Matt Nagy’s recent comments, Riddick was spot on, and those kid gloves are coming off.
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Matt Nagy on Bears’ QB Competition: Foles is at Slight Disadvantage
Nagy and Bears’ GM Ryan Pace met with the media via Zoom Wednesday, and Nagy reiterated the quarterback competition was “wide open,” noting that every little thing will be factored into their decision when they pick a starter.
“We’re evaluating those quarterbacks with every single play,” Nagy said. “Not just throw, but every single check that they make at the line of scrimmage, every bit of leadership that they show in and out of the huddle, how they react to a specific play in practice, and so that got squeezed down a little bit. But with that said, our coordinators are doing a heck of a job right now as we sit here, of figuring out ways to maximize those competitive plays.”
When ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson asked Nagy if Foles might be at a slight disadvantage due to the lack of preseason games and the fact that he wasn’t able to spend the entire offseason with the team due to coronavirus restrictions, Nagy answered in the affirmative.
“It’s more of a disadvantage not having what he could have had … more specifically, the timing with the wide receivers that you get in OTAs where you can run route after route after route. You get to see and feel how guys time up their motions, so for sure that will be a disadvantage.”
Considering Trubisky has been practicing with the likes of Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, Anthony Miller and David Montgomery for the bulk of the summer, Foles will definitely have some catching up to do there. But if Foles is the mentally tougher quarterback, Trubisky could be in trouble.
Mitch Will Likely Get the Nod, But Will Need to Toughen Up
Considering everything the Bears gave up to draft Trubisky, and considering how hard he has been working this offseason — as well as his aforementioned advantage over Foles — Mitch seems more likely than ever to win the starting job. But he’s going to have to develop or hone a newfound mental toughness if he wants to keep it, because, as Riddick suggested, the kid gloves are coming off — which Nagy confirmed.
“As we’re going through this thing,” Nagy said Wednesday, “If one of the quarterbacks is stinking it up and he’s playing like crap we’re going to tell you you’re playing like crap — and we’re going to tell you that in front of the other one. They’re both going to know when someone’s playing good and someone’s playing good or someone’s playing bad and someone’s playing bad. They’re going to know that. So when the time comes, when we inevitably need to make a decision, trust me it’s not going to be a surprise to them, and that’s where I think open communication helps.”
And when that time comes, if Trubisky is the guy, his mental game will have to be tougher than it’s ever been. Because if it’s not, he won’t be the guy for long.
You can watch Nagy and Pace’s full interview below: