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It May Not Be the Start of the Foles Era, But It Is the End of Trubisky’s Time

Nick Foles knew what defense might be coming. He knew which players might hit him. He knew what he might see and not see.

Foles, the Chicago Bears quarterback trying to complete a miracle comeback off the bench Sunday at Atlanta, knew he might get clobbered. So he told receiver Anthony Miller: “If I do happen to kill it, I’m going to throw it to the L. So get to the L and it’ll be a pretty stiff ball.’ ‘’

The “L’’ meant the letter L in the word “ATLANTA” in the endzone. 

“So I knew just in case I didn’t have time to get it off cleanly,’’ Foles explained later, telling the story, “he would be there.’’

Yes, Miller was there. Yes, so was the ball. And yes, the Bears beat Atlanta 30-26, scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter.

And this was one of those turning-point moments in Chicago sports history. Was it the beginning of the Nick Foles era? Well, let’s not move too fast on that. What I meant was that this is the end of the Mitch Trubisky era.

Also, it was the day that coach Matt Nagy, in his third season with the Bears, finally took control of the team. And it was the day the clock started ticking on sixth-year Bears general manager Ryan Pace.

So much to untangle here, and it all turned when a quarterback told his receiver to simply to run to the L.

Pace spent all of his capital in 2017 when he took Trubisky with the second pick in the NFL draft, ahead of Patrick Mahomes. Trubisky had started just 13 games in college. And it didn’t take long to see that Trubisky isn’t the guy. But to admit that would be to admit that Pace isn’t the guy, either.

He isn’t. But that’s not the point. What matters is the pressure that Pace put on Nagy to keep going with Trubisky, to keep trying to get us to believe. I am surprised, honestly, that Nagy had the go-ahead to bench Trubisky in the middle of the third quarter Sunday.

Sure, Pace signed Foles to a big-dollar contract this offseason, too. But Pace’s protection is now gone. If Foles doesn’t turn out to be the answer either, then Pace is gone, too.

It would be so nice to just look forward here. They say not to cry over spilled milk. But look at all the spilled milk!

The Bears had a Super Bowl-quality defense the past few years. And instead of finding a quarterback who wouldn’t blow it, they stuck with Trubisky.

Did the Bears throw away a Super Bowl just to save Pace’s skin?

The window on the great Bears defense is closing. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is so slow now and the front isn’t dominant anymore.

Well, this really isn’t Trubisky’s fault. There were second-pick expectations on a guy who shouldn’t have been the second pick. On the other hand, I don’t feel too bad for him: He’ll leave the Bears with second-pick money.

Foles was so much more professional than Trubisky Sunday. He was attacking the defense, maybe too aggressively. With Trubisky, it always looks like he’s learning how to do a waltz by putting his feet on those paper-foot cutouts.

And after a whole offseason of Pace and Nagy pumping up Trubisky, and Trubisky taking stock of himself and rediscovering his confidence, he was done 10½ quarters into the season after an interception.

“We were lacking a little bit of a rhythm,’’ Nagy said. “There was something missing.’’

Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor gave Trubisky the news:

“Nick is up.’’

Think about that. We’ve had three years of the Bears so loudly demanding that Trubisky is the guy and then it ended with three words, three syllables, eight letters?

Nick is up.

The NFL really is cold, as it should be. And when Foles came in and started marching the offense, you should’ve seen the Bears defense. It’s always risky to read body language, but the Bears defenders seemed to be leaning forward, not backward.

They started getting pressure on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. And the entire Bears team just suddenly looked right somehow.

Now, I’m not predicting a Super Bowl here. The Bears are 3-0 and their opponents have won only one game this year. In the first two weeks of the season, the NFC Offensive Player of the Week was whoever played quarterback against Atlanta. Foles will make three weeks.

Let’s see what else he can do. 

Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.

5 Comments

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  1. I completely agree with your assessment, especially this:

    “And when Foles came in and started marching the offense, you should’ve seen the Bears defense. It’s always risky to read body language, but the Bears defenders seemed to be leaning forward, not backward.”

    I am sorry, but I have a real problem with this. While you mention in the article that Foles was much more professional than Trubisky, it also sounds like he is more of a professional than their defensive players. Are their defensive players being paid(very well by the way) to play defense or make QB decisions, etc..? A real pro goes out and plays with full effort no matter the situation.

  2. Greg C: “The Bears are 3-0 and their opponents have won only one game this year. In the first two weeks of the season, the NFC Offensive Player of the Week was whoever played quarterback against Atlanta.”

    LOL Greg…no need to be apologetic for what’s happening in Chi-Town…Dak almost leap-frogged Russell Wilson $$ and was shooting for Patrick Mahomes based on beating teams with losing records in 2019.

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