LAKE FOREST – So many things are so very different right now than they were a year ago.
For one, the Bears were able to just work from Halas Hall back in 2019, but that’s not the case in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s forced almost all of the team’s staff to work from home.
Twelve months ago, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy were looking forward to a season in which many believed they could make a championship run. Leading the way for the offense, at this point in 2019, was Mitchell Trubisky, who was cemented as the Bears’ No. 1 starter and looking to turn the corner after an improved second season.
His performance in the fourth quarter of the Wild Card game against the Eagles provided such hope even in a loss.
Now a year later, Trubisky’s role with the Bears is completely up in the air, and his job will depend on a competition against the man who beat him in that playoff game in January, 2019.
On a conference call on Friday morning, Bears general manager Ryan Pace confirmed that Trubisky will compete with Nick Foles for the starting quarterback job this fall. This is different from the narrative pushed by the team after the 2019 season and before free agency, where Mitchell was always affirmed as the starter.
“We’ve talked to both players, and the way we view this, it’s an open competition,” said Pace to start off his conference call with reporters. “Credit to both those guys for embracing it.”
Foles comes to Chicago after being acquired in a trade with the Jaguars at the start of the new league year in March in exchange for a fourth round pick. The Bears have re-worked his initial four-year, $88 million dollar deal that he signed with Jacksonville before the 2019 season.
Picked up by the Jaguars to be their long-term starter, Foles broke his collarbone in Week 1 and only played in four games. He was eventually benched in favor of rookie Gardner Minshew.
“What’s important, and what you all are going to find out in this process, is gonna be real simple: It’s going to be very transparent and very honest,” said Nagy of the quarterback competition.
Naturally this is seen as a major blow to Trubisky, who was drafted second-overall in 2017 to finally be the Bears’ long-term quarterback. But he took major steps backwards in 2019, as his completion percentage (63.2), yards (3,138), and touchdowns (17) all went down from the previous year.
While not totally his fault, Trubisky’s inconsistency was a reason the Bears’ offense was 29th in total yards (296.8) and points (17.5). Nagy said that he’s spoken to Trubisky about the open competition already and that he seems to be embracing it.
“What I thought was really neat is when we talked to Mitch, which speaks to who he is, you could feel how much of a competitor – you know it and you see it – he’s a competitor now, he’s embracing it, and excited to get back to work,” said Nagy of Trubisky.