When Ryan Pace speaks, I find myself listening very closely.
Not just because he is the Chicago Bears’ general manager. But also because he speaks so infrequently, that any time he makes an appearance, I want to give it my full attention.
And because Pace expanded on so much in a recent podcast with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, there were some things that needed to broken out of the pack. Among them, Pace’s perspective on the looming quarterback battle between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.
Before we dive into the meat of it, you can loop back to Pace sharing that the team is “pissed off” after last season amid COVID-19 and some expanded thoughts on guest speakers, optimism, and the other position battles taking place in Bears camp. And of course, you can dive into Pace’s full interview with Florio. But for now, highlights centering around the QB spot and some commentary from myself. Enjoy!
A Fair Warning: Addressing the elephant in the room – a.k.a. The Great QB Competition of 2020 – is going to become redundant at some point. But because it’s the most important position in the game and features the first quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft going up against a Super Bowl MVP who knocked off Tom Brady while at the peak of his powers, we’re going to talk about this thing. A lot. So brace yourselves, it’s coming. So let’s get to it.
Is Chicago Ready to Go Full Philly?
Pace made it a point to note that the Bears have a cadre of coaches (headlined by Head Coach Matt Nagy, QBs Coach John DeFilippo, and Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor) who have experience with Foles. And that they have been with Foles at different points of his journey is pretty important, too. But for me, the biggest morsel from all this is how the Bears appear to have dug into Foles’ past to unearth an offense that best suits this team moving forward.
“As we went through all the different styles of offenses that he’s played in, what we do here in Chicago is very similar to what he was doing in Philadelphia with Coach (Doug) Pederson. I think there’s a lot of commonalities there, so I think that style of play you saw in Philly with Nick — we saw it first-hand in the playoffs — I think that’s something you can expect to see here in Chicago.”
Earlier in the offseason, we discussed a potential shift in offensive philosophy the Bears could be moving toward based on their offseason actions. After last year’s issues, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears change their offensive scheme in a way that better protects the quarterback, helps in springing the running game, and puts different types of pass-catching threats out in patterns by implementing an increased usage of 12 personnel. And while I can see where that would benefit Foles, it’s easy to envision how it could aid in Trubisky’s development, too.
Covering All the Bases
It was interesting that Florio brought up the similarities between the projected transition tag and the estimated cost of picking up the fifth-year option. More interesting on top of that is, within that context, Pace acknowledged he and his staff poured over all that information before making the decision not to pick up the fifth-year option on Mitchell Trubisky’s rookie contract.
“We went over all those scenarios. Best case. Worst case. Back and forth. Plenty of dialogue on that. And we were very comfortable with the decision. And then it just came down to communicating with Mitch, being honest, being transparent like we always are.”
It’s one thing for us to talk about it amongst ourselves, as a site that analyzes everything, and a fan base that wants to think along with the general manager. But it’s another thing to hear that the front office followed the same logical steps that every Bears fan would’ve wanted them to take throughout this process. This isn’t the most earth-shattering thing, but it’s worth highlighting for these purposes.
Providing a Glimpse of Mitchell Trubisky’s Reaction
Pace also gave a description of what it was like to give Trubisky the news that the option wasn’t going to be picked up and that the competition for the QB1 gig was forthcoming.
“Once he digested it, you kinda see him clench his jaw and embrace it. Let’s go, let’s go. I think it’s going to be fun to see this play out.”
That’s exactly how you want your 2017 first-round pick to react and respond. Embrace the challenge and give it your best shot. Should Trubisky go on to win the competition and lead the Bears to the postseason, the narrative of how the Bears approached pushing him will be something we look back on with great interest.
So … when is a decision going to be made anyway? Pace had an answer for that, but it’s not one that fans who want immediate satisfaction will want to read.
“We haven’t said that this is going to be the timetable. We’ve just said, hey, it’s going to be a daily evaluation for us. Obviously, there’s going to be a bit of acceleration to it. Matt and I have already talked about playing our players more in the preseason this year. We hadn’t don’t that much the past two years, so that’s going to be important to get the starters.”
Everything Pace talked about — from the quarterback competition, to position battles elsewhere, to the change of heart in handling the preseason — ties together. The QB battle will obviously take precedence because of the importance of the competition. But in order to properly evaluate the Nick Foles-Mitchell Trubisky showdown, they’ll need proper assistance from other positions at their disposal to field a fair fight. Everything is interconnected for the 2020 Bears.