Bears fans panicked recently when rumors spread of a potential Nick Foles opt out for 2020.
Thankfully, the quarterback acquired in a significant offseason trade with the Jaguars isn't going anywhere but to the practice field to prepare for his battle for Chicago's starting quarterback job.
"There was never a discussion about opting out," Foles said while speaking with the media Friday. ... "My wife and I both felt great pursuing being in Chicago and being here."
Some players are opting out, especially those with high-risk situations that include preexisting conditions and more vulnerable family members at home. Foles has a newborn at home, but he said Friday he felt comfortable about playing after touring the facility and seeing how many precautionary measures have been put into place at Halas Hall.
Now that that's settled, it's time for Foles to prove he was worth the trade.
Despite a lack of offseason reps, Foles said there are similarities between Chicago's and Philadelphia's offense, a product of a crossing of multiple coaching tree branches with Foles' career path. There's a strange bit of shared blood between the journeys of Foles and head coach Matt Nagy that presumably make this union a natural fit.
Foles began his career in 2012 in Philadelphia under head coach Andy Reid, under whom Nagy served as offensive quality control coach. After Reid was fired by Philadelphia and hired by Kansas City in 2013, Nagy followed him there along with offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. Pederson became Philadelphia's head coach in 2016, and Nagy was promoted to replace him as offensive coordinator in Kansas City, where Foles signed for one season in 2016.
Foles then left for a return to Philadelphia and reunion with Pederson (Foles' former QBs coach in Philadephia) in 2017, and ended up replacing the injured Carson Wentz to lead the Eagles on a storybook run to a victory in Super Bowl LII. We know the rest of the tale from there, with Nagy ending up in Chicago in 2018, Foles going to Jacksonville in 2019 and the two reuniting in Chicago in 2020.
Foles has cleared the first hurdle, then, and is comfortable enough with the health and safety protocols for that to not be an issue, either. All that's left is to take command of the offense and beat out the former second-overall pick, Mitch Trubisky.
"I think the big thing is just don't focus on winning," Foles explained. "The big thing is focus on getting to be myself out there on the field. When a play is called, playing to the best of my ability.
"...It's been a year since I was in that sort of offense, but it's nice to have that verbiage and have this feel and understand why we're doing it, this is how we do it, this is the history. Because the history of the Philly offense came from K.C., we evolved it in Philly but coach Nagy brought the K.C. offense here and it's become the Bears offense."
Trubisky's buffer time given to learn how to succeed in the NFL is just about up, and he knows he has to consistently prove his worth this camp.
"Every day I show up, I have to prove myself I'm the No. 1 guy for this team," Trubisky said on Friday.
Comfort is key when there's a competitor applying pressure, and Trubisky hasn't exactly had the benefit of comfort in the last year. We all remember when staffers turned the TVs off inside Halas Hall to insulate the young signal-caller from outside criticism. But nothing will remind you that your future is at risk quite like a veteran bearing a Super Bowl ring taking snaps alongside you. There's no turning off your teammate.
"A lot of people talk about the quarterback competition -- it's just like I always say, everyone goes into game one wanting to win a game," Foles said. "Saying you want to win a game doesn't do anything. You have to do the little things each and every day, whether it's your workout, whether it's your pre-practice routine, whether it's when Nagy calls a play in practice, just executing that play. ... The biggest problem is we watch the other guy and he makes a big throw and you think to yourself 'Oh man, now I've got to throw a big throw' and then you don't even read the play out."
"...I'm just going out there, and if I'm working the second team, first team, third team, let's just play ball, man. I love this offense, I love the verbiage, I've been in this offense, I know what I can do in this offense. But all that stuff gives me is wisdom -- wisdom to go out there and help my teammates, to help Mitch, to help Tyler. I'm not keeping secrets from Mitch. I want to help Mitch, so if there's a play that I ran a lot and I know a lot, I'm gonna give him that information just like I know he will with me because we're working to help each other.
"When he makes a great throw I'm going to be right there to slap him a five and then they'll probably have to sanitize our hands, but I'm gonna do it."
Foles sounds like a man operating in his own element, even if during these pandemic-gripped days, we're all operating well outside of our elements. Come September, we'll know who has emerged as the star and the other as the understudy.