When the Bears’ 21-9 wild-card loss to the Saints ended with Jimmy Graham taking his ninth touchdown grab of the season straight into the visitors’ locker room, the offseason was officially underway and the Bears absolute top priority going forward was fix the quarterback position.
Their equation: say goodbye to Mitch Trubisky, sign Andy Dalton, draft Justin Fields and keep Nick Foles.
Predictably that has put head coach Matt Nagy in a box, mainly because so many of the fanatic, but uninformed, believe getting to nirvana is now as simple as putting Fields on the field and watching him soar.
Sadly that is not how it works in the NFL. It is almost always best to let the new kid get some splinters in his butt and study what’s happening in front of him before he gets to try and execute it.
This is where things have gotten a little hinky.
One year ago, the Bears gave up a fourth-round draft choice for Foles and guaranteed him $17 million to come and compete for the job with Trubisky.
This year, they gave up nothing to get Dalton, guaranteed him just $7.5 million and told him the job is his – no competition or audition required – and told Foles he can’t be No. 2 either. That job is being gifted to Fields.
How does that work, and how did Nick Foles get so bad so fast?
Fourteen months ago Ryan Pace was out selling the Foles trade.
“When we got to Nick, it was really a collective effort,” Pace said at the time. “A talented player and the fact that he’s played in some big games and performed well in those big games and that carries a lot of weight.
“Then you have a lot of people in our building that are comfortable with him as a person and his makeup, which made the decision easier. That all kind of came together to make him a target for us and someone we wanted to aggressively go get.”
Foles then addressed the QB competition with Trubisky ahead of training camp.
“I love competitions. I love competition at practice,” he said. “The quarterback competition becomes such a big thing in the NFL, which it is. But ultimately we have to do what’s best for the Chicago Bears.”
Now, take the fact that Foles got no offseason last year and the competition never really got off the ground due to the pandemic, and it shouldn’t be hard to understand the general confusion when Nagy told us a couple weeks ago at the start of OTAs, “Nick and I have talked and he understands that going into this that Justin is going to get the (No.) 2 reps and that Nick’s going to get the 3 reps.”
Sure, we get the value and urgency of getting Fields as many quality reps as possible. But to give the team the best chance to compete shouldn’t Foles and Dalton be splitting the No. 1 and No. 3 reps and let the best man win until Fields is ready?
There is practically nothing in the two quarterbacks’ history to suggest Dalton is the better player.
He does have more than twice as many starts as Foles, but other than that their career won-loss percentages, completion percentages, average yards per pass and passer ratings are all extremely close.
Foles’ touchdown-to-interception ratio is better.
Neither has ever been elected to a Pro Bowl, but in Dalton’s three alternate trips he didn’t even have average NFL seasons. Foles meanwhile was the second best quarterback in the league to Peyton Manning the one year he was an alternate and should have been the NFC starter.
Foles is 4-2 in the playoffs including one Super Bowl MVP, while Dalton is somewhat famously 0-4 with one touchdown, six interceptions and an embarrassing 57.8 passer rating.
This isn’t Tom Brady versus Jonathan Quinn.
I’m sure you could make an argument for either Dalton or Foles.
But hasn’t Foles at least earned the right to make that argument himself and compete?
And if not, why can’t or won’t Nagy tell us why?
How did Foles get this bad this fast?
What were the personal issues that kept Foles away from the voluntary OTAs?
It just doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?