When the Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles, the prevailing opinion was that the veteran quarterback would supplant Mitchell Trubisky as the starter.
Then the COVID-19 lockdowns hit, wiping out the offseason program and eventually preseason games.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said during a Zoom call with the media on Wednesday that the lack of an offseason program doesn't help Foles' ability to win the job.
"I think for sure it's an absolute more of a disadvantage not having what he could've had, building the relationship and more specifically the timing with the wide receivers that you get in the OTAs, where you can route after route after route after route," Nagy said of Foles. "You get to see and feel how guys time up their motions. For sure that would be a disadvantage. It's something that he could've had that doesn't have. But those guys know that. He understands that.
"For both of them, it's just gonna be... Neither one of them should go out there and try to do too much, you know? They just need to be themselves out there when they're playing football and let the results take care of themselves. They're both really good people, so in the room it'll be really good there."
As the Bears have insisted all offseason, they plan to hold a wide-open quarterback competition during training camp. The lack of preseason games and padded practices could make it challenging for coaches to suss out an obvious winner. Nagy noted that both Foles and Trubisky will be evaluated on every practice rep, from making throws to checks at the line of scrimmage to leadership.
"We need to be creative within these drills and make sure that the time that's given to us in practice, that we're using it as much as we can with competitive periods," Nagy said. "It's hard to do that in walk-throughs. It's hard to do that in meetings, even if they're in person. When we get a chance to go out there, we're evaluating those quarterbacks with every single play. Not just throw, but every single check that they make at the line of scrimmage, every bit of leadership that they show in and out of the huddle. We're there watching how they react to a specific play in practice. So that got squeezed down a bit.
"Our coordinators are doing a heck of a job right now, as we sit here, of figuring out ways to maximize those competitive plays and periods and we feel confident that we believe that it will all play itself out. It's going to be completely open and we're just going to take it day by day. We're excited to see that happen."
GM Ryan Pace added that the decision on a starter will be a collaborative process, but that the team set no timetable on making that choice.
Nagy said that the competition will be a "seasonal process," and added that he believes both Foles and Trubisky have the mental makeup to play through a season in whatever role coaches deem best.
"As we're going through this (competition), if one of the quarterbacks is stinking it up, and he's playing like crap, we're going to tell you that you're playing like crap," he said. "And if you're playing really well, we're going to tell you that in front of the other one. They're both going to know if someone's playing good and someone's playing good or someone's playing bad and someone's playing bad. They're going to know that."