CHICAGO - The announcement came April 3 over a conference call with local media. Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy declared "an open competition" for the starting quarterback job. It was a significant development but hardly surprising. The Bears had put the writing on the wall in spray paint two weeks earlier when they traded a fourth-round pick to the Jaguars in exchange for Nick Foles.
After last season's offensive regression, after the Bears finished 29th in the NFL in both total yards (296.8 per game) and scoring (17.5 ppg), after Mitch Trubisky staggered through a maddening season with a passer rating of 83.0, the Bears weren't about to pretend the status quo would be acceptable in 2020. Thus, they made their moves.
They traded for Foles, later rejected the fifth-year option on Trubisky's rookie deal and made it clear to everyone that they want to enter the 2020 season with a starting quarterback who inspires confidence in his coaching staff and teammates. That requires an open competition.
May the best quarterback win.
Will that be Trubisky? Will it be Foles? Trubisky or Foles? Foles or Trubisky?
This is the most significant storyline in the Bears' 2020 turnaround effort. And as Nagy made the rounds Wednesday doing interviews with multiple national outlets, it was clear that's where most of the spotlight is going to shine on his team in the months ahead.
So how will this dynamic effect Trubisky, who not long ago was thought to be the Bears' long-term answer at the position but now is in a contract year fighting to remain the starter for Week 1?
On NBCSN, Rich Eisen pressed Nagy on whether Trubisky would be able to hold up to a pressure-packed competition that will be scrutinized from every angle. If Nagy has pushed Trubisky over the last two seasons to become mentally stronger, to strengthen his next-play mentality, are the Bears concerned about how he'll respond with his job security shakier than it ever has been?
How, Eisen wondered, will Trubisky handle the push from Foles to take his job?
"That'll be the big question," Nagy said. "All he can do, and the discussions that we've had is you can only control the opportunity that you have right now. Control what you can control. He has gotten to this point through a lot of hard work. And now? The way he has been in these meetings that we've had, in these discussions that we've had, I absolutely love his attitude. I don't think he could have handled this situation any better.
"You look at a guy in our situation, where we went ahead and made a trade for Nick, any person when that happens, you're just going to feel like, 'OK, how do I make this better?' And for probably a day or two, he was that way. After that and ever since, he's been really good. And I appreciate that about him."
It's worth pointing out that attitude and work ethic never have been Trubisky's big problems. So it's neither surprising nor significant that the 25-year-old quarterback has retained a needed level of drive and positive energy. Trubisky's bigger issues have come in being able to process opposing defenses at an elite level. His inability to make game-changing plays on a consistent basis has been problematic. And last season his struggles were a major reason the Bears went from Super Bowl hopefuls in September to third-place disappointments by Christmas.
Nagy further addressed the quarterback storyline Wednesday morning with Colin Cowherd on ESPN.
"The simple fact of the matter is that we want to have the best possible team we can have in Chicago with the Bears," Nagy said. "So right now we're presented with a great healthy competition between two quarterbacks who are going to battle their tails off. We understand that.
"And the thing with Mitch is, he is very competitive. And he is 19-10 (the last two seasons as a starter). ... But he also knows he can grow in a lot of different ways. And so the time is right now for that to happen. He's excited for it."
All of this comes with the caveat that the competition can't actually start until the quarterbacks are allowed to compete. That requires the Bears being allowed to get back on the field and given the greenlight to practice again.
In that regard, there's still no telling when the first reps of this competition will occur and how much time the Bears then will have to sift through everything.
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