As the NFL began its new league year last week and teams dove headfirst into free agency, the Chicago Bearsaddressed a major need. They sent a fourth-round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for quarterback Nick Foles.
This trade was a win-win for both franchises. The Bears needed insurance for Mitchell Trubisky after he struggled in 2019, and the Jaguars appear ready to make Gardner Minshew the starter after injuries limited Foles to just four games last season.
Foles was primed to be the man in Jacksonville after he turned a Super Bowl victory with the Eagles into an $88 million contract. But a broken clavicle derailed those plans, and Minshew asserted himself as the starter in Foles' absence.
Now Foles brings his resume to a Bears team that needs new life under center. The Bears maintain that Trubisky is the starter in 2020, but here are five reasons why Foles could be the starter sooner rather than later.
Heading into his ninth NFL season, Foles has played in 58 games with 48 starts (26-22 record). He's completed 61.9 percent of his pass attempts for 11,901 yards, 71 touchdowns, and 35 interceptions. Foles' career passer rating is a solid 88.2, although he's not much of a threat on the ground. Foles has displayed arm strength, accuracy, toughness, and leadership throughout his career.
Foles was both the winning quarterback and MVP of Super Bowl LII. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013 after he led the league in passer rating (119.2), yards per attempt (9.1), and touchdown rate (8.5 percent) that season. It was also in 2013 that Foles became the seventh quarterback to throw seven touchdown passes in one game (Week 9 vs. Oakland). And in Week 17 of the 2018 campaign (vs. Washington), Foles tied the record for most consecutive pass completions in one game (25). Foles isn't as decorated as other quarterbacks, but he can get the job done.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy came from the Andy Reid coaching tree. Foles played for Reid in both 2012 with the Philadelphia Eagles and in '16 with the Kansas City Chiefs, during which time Nagy was the Chiefs' offensive coordinator. When Foles returned to Philadelphia for his second run (2017-18), his head coach was Doug Pederson who not only played for Reid in Philadelphia (1999) but was also an assistant under him (2009-15) with both the Eagles and Chiefs. Pederson and Nagy both run versions of Reid's offense so Foles understands the concepts and schemes that this offense employs.
Additionally, new Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo served as quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia when Foles was on the roster. Senior offensive assistant Brad Childress was an assistant coach with the Chiefs in 2016, while offensive line coach Juan Castillo was an assistant under Reid in Philadelphia during Foles' 2012 rookie season. Foles will see plenty of familiar faces in Chicago.
Foles has shown that he can fully absorb Nagy's playbook, something that has been problematic for Trubisky. In fact, Nagy had to remove plays from his play-calling sheet during the course of last season in order to simplify the offense for Trubisky. That shouldn't be an issue for Foles. Trubisky has also struggled in areas such as decision making, knowing when to throw the ball away, throwing the deep pass, and adjusting to defenses.
5. Trubisky's lack of development
The most obvious reason why Foles has a chance to start in Chicago is because Trubisky took several steps backward last season. A Pro Bowler in 2018, Trubisky saw his numbers fall across the board in '19, most notably passer rating (from 95.4 to 83.0), yards per attempt (7.4 to 6.1), and touchdown passes (24 to 17). His passing yardage (3,138 compared to 3,223) also declined even though he attempted nearly 100 more passes (516 vs. 434) and played in one more game (15 vs. 14) compared to 2018.
Perhaps even more troubling, Trubisky was sacked 38 times this past season after getting taken down 24 times in 2018. Trubisky also stopped using his legs for some reason, finishing with just 193 rushing yards on 48 attempts after collecting 421 on 69 carries the previous season. Put it all together, and it paints a picture of a quarterback who did not take the step forward many were expecting after a productive 2018 season. Combine that with the fact that the Bears have not made a decision on Trubisky's fifth-year option yet (expected to come in May) and Foles' contract obligations (three years, $50 million remaining, $21 million guaranteed), and it sure looks like the team is going to give Foles every opportunity to beat out Trubisky for the starting job in training camp.
Foles has proven himself in all of these areas through the course of his career. And if Trubisky starts to struggle again, Foles will be primed and ready to take over the starters role. Bears fans are already hoping that Foles will get the job.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of jaguars.com)