Foles Takes Over: Rapid Fire Response to the Bears Winning Their 3rd Straight

| September 28th, 2020

Read this Tweet. Now, read it again. This quote from Nick Foles illustrates why many, including myself, argued he should have been the starter from day one. He is a smart, competent quarterback. The sham quarterback “competition” could have cost the Bears wins. Thankfully, it didn’t. Foles is now the quarterback. And the Bears are undefeated.

Rapid fire.

  • Tarik Cohen’s loss can’t be understated. But one would think Cordarrelle Patterson will see a significant increase of offensive snaps and Anthony Miller will assume the punt return duties full-time. Question. Why not use Ted Ginn as the punt returner? He was electric in that role at Ohio State.
  • Two of the more telling moments of this broadcast were sideline cuts.
    • After Mitch was benched, Kyle Fuller made it a point to go over to him and give him a fist bump. Mitch wanted nothing to do with it but the moment mattered. Mitch will still be needed by this time at some point this season.
    • As Nagy and Foles were scheming later in the game, Mitch was seated on the bench, alone. Yes it sucks getting benched but Mitch needed to be right up beside them, listening to everything, devouring the concepts, learning. It’s great that he did the Zoom conference call with reporters after the game but the Zoom conference call isn’t making him a better quarterback.
  • Don’t have the snap counts yet but Danny Trevathan played more than I expected. And not particularly well.
  • Did Mitch Trubisky throw a single deep sideline route in bounds?
  • Trubisky’s interception was awful but from all reports the Bears were considering making a QB change at halftime. That tells me Nagy was infuriated by the Miller deep miss late in the second quarter. Nagy had been setting it up the entire first half and Miller had three yards on the secondary. That’s an easy touchdown for most, if not all, starting quarterbacks in the league.

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Rewatch Notes: Three Easy Adjustments for Mitch Trubisky for Week Two

| September 17th, 2020

The advantage of being a home subscriber to Sunday Ticket for the first time is the brilliance of condensed game broadcasts. (These are rebroadcasts of the game with everything but the plays themselves removed.) After several re-watches of Bears/Lions, there are a few clear adjustments Mitch Trubisky can make from Week One to Week Two to keep the chains moving and get this offense into the end zone.

Adjustment #1: Footwork

Whether it be general anxiety or indecisiveness, Mitch’s feet are an absolute mess at times. Not at all times, mind you, but still too frequently for a quarterback in his fourth season. This has to be the focus of the quarterback room all week as several misses…

  • Fourth down shank to Ted Ginn
  • Air ball to Demetrius Harris in the end zone
  • Way-too-short floater to Robinson down the right sideline in the fourth quarter

…were directly attributable to messy mechanics. Set your feet. Release the football.

Adjustment #2: Take What’s There

Two plays stood out to me.

2nd Quarter. 11:08 Remaining. 2nd and 12. When Mitch drops into the pocket, he has Darnell Mooney wide open on a shallow cross.

What did Mitch do? He threw a deep ball five yards by Allen Robinson, who was blanketed in coverage. If he dumps this ball to Mooney, it’s 3rd and 5 at the worst! 3rd and 5 opens the entire playbook for Matt Nagy.

But what about the next play? Now, 3rd and 12. Here’s what Mitch has in front of him when he delivers the football.

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Hitting the ATM: The Mitch We Already Know.

| September 1st, 2020

After visible training camp practices concluded Saturday, nearly ever beat reporter had Nick Foles ahead of Mitch Trubisky in the team’s quarterback competition. That tells us all we need to know about Trubisky.

(In fairness, those on the Bears beat are hardly experts when it comes to judging quarterbacks and nobody has any actual idea what the Bears are looking for. But all reports have indicated that Trubisky has yet to grow out of the maddening inconsistencies that led to Foles being acquired in the first place.)

Whether it’s running out of bounds for a two-yard loss instead of throwing the ball away, making questionable decisions or throwing scattershot incompletions and interceptions, Trubisky has seemingly looked exactly like the player he has been throughout his career.

That might be surprising to some because there was at least a portion of the fan base that thought Trubisky’s faults weren’t actually his in the first place and blamed his shoulder injury, which came after he already had three mostly bad showings, as well as his offensive and his skill players and the moon and the stars. Even for the more realistic fans, there was at least some hope that Trubisky would be more motivated this year. In a contract year, with a challenger looking him in the face, how could Trubisky not be at his best?

Well maybe we’ve already seen his best.

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Practice Notebook (8/21/20)

| August 21st, 2020

With a week of practices almost in the books, I’ve actually started doing some “work” around here again, texting folks around the club to find out what’s happening. Here are some of their thoughts, and a lot of mine, in these early days.

The Lady’s Got Potential

Several people around practices have noted improvements in Mitch Trubisky’s footwork but let’s hit the breaks a bit. Does anybody care what a quarterback’s mechanics look like in practice sessions? Mitch can set his feet and throw at Halas Hall, I’ve no doubt about that. But can he set his feet and throw when those Smith boys from Green Bay are coming around the edge? If his mechanics are improved it’s undoubtedly a good thing. But nobody will know how improved until they start keeping score.

A New Argentina

Jimmy Graham was the best player on the practice field this week. Cole Kmet made his presence known immediately. There’s no reason to get overly excited about practices but it sure seems like the most improved position on the 2020 Bears will be tight end. Kmet is a stud. His early success won’t surprise me at all. Graham? As someone deep inside the organization told me this spring, “Ryan believes Jimmy is going to have a big season in this offense. So does Jimmy.” Soon, there might be some other believers around the league.

[Side note: I haven’t played fantasy football since Shaun Alexander was in the league but Jimmy Graham is someone I’d be looking at were I to play this season.]

The Art of the Possible

Note from a scout friend: “I think Tulane kid.. Mooney is going to be really good.“

Darnell Mooney can fly and the Bears think they stole a real player in the fifth round. Will he have major impact this season? Well, the truth is he doesn’t have to. With Teddy Ginn on the roster, the rookie can grow into the season and watched a seasoned speedster go about his work.

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Thursday Lynx Package (8/6/20)

| August 6th, 2020

  • Who provided the most in-depth look at Mitch Trubisky’s competition preparation? Unsurprisingly, it’s a guy I used to drink with in bars when that kind of thing was allowed: Adam Jahns. And in his piece for The Athletic he gives plenty of reason for Mitch loyalists to believe the young signal caller is capable of finally turning a corner. My two cents? I just don’t understand what he’s done to earn another shot. If I’m the Bears, I tell Mitch that Nick Foles is starting the opener but to keep his arm warm in the bullpen.
  • This spring I got into a somewhat public Twitter spat with Stacey Dales for having the gumption to challenge an opinion of hers. Now full reporting shows that Aaron Rodgers (a) was pissed at the selection of a first-round QB and (b) is openly discussing the end of his tenure with the organization. I get that some in the sports media get overly protective of those they cover to protect access. But this was dumb argument by a smart reporter. You’d have to know absolutely nothing about Rodgers to think he wouldn’t be offended by the pick.
  • Kelly Stafford went a bit ballistic when it turned out Matt Stafford’s Covid-19 test was a false positive. “I have been losing my mind because of how my Family has been treated since my husband was put on the Covid-IR list,” Kelly, who has four children with Matt, said. “Even after we knew it was a false positive, I was approached in a grocery store told I was ‘endangering others,’ my kids were harassed and kicked off a playground, I was told I needed to wait in my car when trying to pick up food, and people closest to us had to get tested just so they could go back to work… and that’s just to name a few things.” Kelly has battled significant health issues and I understand her frustration. But all the things she suggests here are the PROPER PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE with a positive test. If it’s false positive, great. But before that is known, you can’t just pretend it’s life as usual.
  • IN ACTUAL BEAR NEWS: Here are some bears “pole dancing” in West Hartford.

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Nick Foles: Reasons for Optimism

| August 3rd, 2020

There’s a popular opinion shared among Bears fans (and certain media types) that Nick Foles isn’t good. Because of this belief, these individuals have reached two conclusions: (1) it’s in the best interest of the Bears for Mitch Trubisky to “win” the starting job this summer and (2) the Bears won’t be any good in 2020.

Here’s where I differ: I think Nick Foles is good. Great? No. A franchise quarterback? Of course not. But Nick Foles has led a franchise through a miraculous postseason and won Super Bowl MVP. Nick Foles has thrown twice the number of touchdowns as interceptions in his eight seasons. Nick Foles has pitched to a career QB rating of 88.2, more than two points better than that Cam Newton with whom everybody seemed so enamored.

And Foles’ goodness goes beyond statistics. I remember seeing him look absolutely dominant running Chip Kelly’s offense in Philly. I remember the calmness he brought to the huddle after Carson Wentz’ injury. I’ve seen him for what he is: a stabilizing force within an organization.

That’s what stood out when he and Mitch Trubisky addressed the media Friday. Trubisky seemed immature, still spouting well-rehearsed cliches and insinuating – somehow – that he’d never make mechanical adjustments before. Trubisky seems like a good enough kid but the act is tired now. He wants to “prove everybody wrong” but the opinions of everybody are based solely on one thing: his wretched play.

This organization, city, fan base is lost in the quarterbacking desert, so thirsty for good play from the position they’ll enthusiastically believe any watery mirage is real and pretend to be quenched after consumption. Trubisky couldn’t even satisfy the most delusional among us.

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ATM: Lack of Preseason Doesn’t Necessarily Hurt Trubisky

| July 10th, 2020

While many think a lack of a game action prior to the regular season would benefit Nick Foles in the competition to be the starting quarterback of the 2020 Chicago Bears, Mitch Trubisky still has the inside track. As of last week, the preseason slate was cut down to two and it doesn’t seem that anybody actually expects either of those games to be played. That leaves the Bears with only practice settings to determine their QB and Trubisky shouldn’t be ruled out.

When it comes to running plays correctly, adjusting protections and making accurate passes, there’s no question that Foles is superior to Trubisky. It’s the ability to run and make something out of broken plays that is supposed to even the playing field. The problem is, camp practice won’t allow that. When a play breaks down in practice, it is whistled dead and they move on to the next one.

But the Bears have to be absolutely certain he can’t play before moving on to Foles. And it’s unlikely Trubisky will clearly display that inability to play on the practice field. (He hasn’t in summers gone by.) The team does not want a situation where the second overall pick becomes someone else’s franchise quarterback. If the two quarterbacks are even close to equal in practices, Trubisky is going to get the chance to show that he is willing to use those legs and has made the necessary strides to be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.

Matt Nagy has said he made a mistake not playing Trubisky and other starters in the 2019 preseason. The team assumed their young quarterback would make plays with his legs. (How could they know he’d suddenly stop running?) Even before he injured his shoulder, Trubisky only had five rushing attempts in three games. The UNC product did begin running again late in the season with 22 rushes over the final month of the season, so there is reason to believe he will again in 2020. Did running equal some magic formula for Trubisky? Hardly. In those four games he had four touchdown passes and three interceptions. Nobody is arguing that he doesn’t need to improve as a passer, but that’s something he can show — at least somewhat — in practice.

With or without preseason games, the ball is firmly in Trubisky’s court. If he shows improvement as a passer, and a firmer handle on the playbook, in whatever form of training camp the team ends up having, he could get to start the regular season.

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ATM: Trubisky’s Development Still Important

| April 8th, 2020

We’ve all seen the flashes from Trubisky.

The arm strength, the mobility.

But there is a mental block preventing him from becoming the quarterback Ryan Pace thought he drafted. At this point, it certainly seems like that mental block will keep Mitch from being the guy who ends the franchise’s historical quarterback drought. But crazier things have happened, haven’t they?

Because while the trade for Nick Foles means the Super Bowl window should be open for the 2020 Chicago Bears, the club’s best chance at keeping it open longer is still dependent on Trubisky’s development, barring the team selecting a new “quarterback of the future” in the second round of the upcoming draft.

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