The Chicago Bears on Sunday named Mitchell Trubisky as the starting quarterback to open the season.
Trubisky outdueled offseason acquisition Nick Foles in a close battle. Bears coach Matt Nagy said Trubisky “won the job” in announcing he will take the first snap against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 13.
“This was going be a fair battle for both of these guys,” Nagy said on a Zoom call with reporters. “Both these guys were really battling their tail off every single day.
“In the end, Mitch won the job and I think that’s very important for him, for us, for everybody to understand that he worked really hard to get to this point.”
Trubisky, who turned 26 on Aug. 20, was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2017 draft. Among the quarterbacks he was selected ahead of include Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (No. 10) and Houston’s Deshaun Watson (No. 12).
He finished last season with a tenuous hold on the starting gig. Trubisky completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 3,138 yards, 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Entering his fourth NFL season, he has completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 8,554 yards, 48 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in 41 games (all starts).
Earlier this year, Chicago declined his fifth-year option worth $24.84 million for 2021.
The failure to commit to Trubisky for 2021 led some observers to believe Foles was the favorite to land the job.
But Nagy said that Trubisky’s decision-making has improved as well as his accuracy and footwork in the pocket.
Trubisky isn’t concerned with the past, and is only worrying about the 2020 season.
“I control my own destiny and I’m definitely not going to take this opportunity for granted,” Trubisky told reporters on Sunday. “I feel like I got a fresh, new clean slate. And that’s how every year should feel. And after winning, after coming out of a competition like that, it’s got that sort of feel to it — that it’s a new year and we all have a clean slate, and we’re not looking back at the past.
“I’m not looking over my shoulder. I’m just going to take advantage of the opportunity ahead and it feels good.”
Foles was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars in March to push Trubisky.
The 31-year-old Foles owns a Super Bowl ring as he took over for injured Carson Wentz late in the 2017 season and guided the Philadelphia Eagles to the title. He was named Super Bowl MVP.
Foles felt the adjustment period of learning a new offense played a part in the decision.
“I felt good out there,” Foles told reporters on Sunday. “Was I myself, like where I want to be? No, I wasn’t, but that’s not based on footwork or anything else — that’s based on the other circumstances that are out of your control where you are moving your family, you’re with a new offense and you’re with new players.
“You really get a great time in the spring to go through OTA practices and get those cobwebs out. That’s not an excuse — that’s just a reality of it all.”
Foles threw for just 736 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in four games (all starts) for the Jaguars last season. He broke his left collarbone in the season opener and then-rookie Gardner Minshew took over as the main quarterback and started 12 of Jacksonville’s 16 games.
Overall, Foles has completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 11,901 yards, 71 touchdowns and 35 interceptions in 58 games (48 starts) during eight NFL seasons with the Eagles (2012-14, 2017-18), the then-St. Louis Rams (2015), Chiefs (2016), and Jaguars.
The Bears have just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Tyler Bray was released and then re-signed to the practice squad on Sunday.
–Field Level Media