The Chicago Bears trading for Nick Foles could be just what they need to reclaim control of the NFC North from the Green Bay Packers.
Ding dong the Mitch is dead.
After the Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles earlier this week, the presumption is he will be the starting quarterback and former No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky will sit on the bench, if he’s still on the roster.
After initially being upset with the trade because I had visions of vintage Cam Newton dancing in my head and being convinced Foles was just a one-hit-wonder, I’ve since calmed down and am looking at this from a fresh new perspective.
Foles will be the starter, but how much better can he make the Bears in a competitive NFC North?
The Bears took a step back last year in the second season under Matt Nagy. It was a move that wasn’t entirely unexpected after overachieving the previous year and having injuries and regression almost across the board.
But 2020 is a new year and the Bears appear to have a quarterback who has the trust of the coaching staff and should be able to open the playbook up a bit more than if Trubisky was under center.
Plus, Nagy and Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s jobs are on the line next year so they’ll be a little more aggressive and creative than normal with unemployment staring them in the face if Foles flops. He’s already the band-aid to fix the Trubisky mistake. They won’t get a third chance to fix this.
But I think Foles can be pretty good in this offense. He played his best football when John DeFilippo and Bill Lazor worked with him in Philadelphia on two different stops. And his familiarity with Nagy when he served as his quarterbacks coach when Foles backed up Alex Smith can’t be discounted.
If Foles is ever going to succeed in the NFL, it’s going to be with this coaching staff, and with Pro Bowl wide receiver Allen Robinson as his No. 1 target.
There may not be a receiver in the league as underappreciated as Robinson. If he hasn’t spent his entire career on the receiving end of Blake Bortles and Trubisky passes, we’d view him among the elite at the position. He’ll have a chance to show that this year.
The Bears offensive line has to be better than last year. Charles Leno and Bobby Massie have to do a better job of slowing down pass rushers and giving the quarterback a clean pocket. The one area Trubisky has over Foles is his ability to scramble and run. It’s also been a detriment where he runs at the first sign of any kind of trouble. Foles is a statue in the backfield and if the line doesn’t do their job, it could lead to way too many third-and-17 situations.
A good running back is a quarterback’s best friend so in addition to protecting the passer, the line has to do a better job of opening up holes and moving bodies. The lack of physicality in the run game was embarrassing for the Bears last year. This is a franchise with a century’s worth of history and tradition of being tough and physical. Walter Payton would have had a permanent cringe-face watching Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery try to find any sort of room last year.
Sure, Cohen and Montgomery need to be better and Nagy needs to do a much better job of not abandoning the run game and knowing when to call and how to call run plays. But a consistent rushing attack will put Foles in manageable down and distance situations.
There are no worries for the Bears defense which remains an elite unit that’s capable of being the best in the NFL. The signing of Robert Quinn to replace Leonard Floyd opposite Khalil Mack might be the best defensive signing in free agency this year. Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller are Pro Bowlers in the secondary. Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan are back healthy and in line for bounce-back years. Akiem Hicks was sorely missed when he dislocated his elbow last year. Provided he’s healthy, the Bears should see Mack return to All-Pro status.
What’s great for the great Bears defense is they may not have to shoulder the entire load which is what all good Bears teams have always had to do.
Foles gives the Bears a living breathing capable quarterback.
The Minnesota Vikings traded away Stephon Diggs and have lost a ton off their defense. While Danielle Hunter remains, Kirk Cousins is still the quarterback. Depending on what happens in the draft, the Vikings could be looking at a mild rebuilding year.
The Packers are always the team to beat in the NFC North and are looking to defend their crown. Aaron Rodgers scares me but he’s past his peak. The defense and Aaron Jones is what makes them dangerous, but Rodgers still needs more help.
We don’t need to concern ourselves with the Detroit Lions and their hopes of competing in the division as long as Matt Patricia is their head coach.
So once again the division should come down to the Bears and the Packers.
Give me Foles and the Bears going 11-5 and edging out the 10-6 Packers for the division crown.