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Fair Shake Is All Bears Coaches Can Promise for Both Quarterbacks

Bears offensive assistants say they carry no bias into a quarterback battle they hope will be produce a clear winner

New Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo has heard it, and admits he expected it.

He's coaching Nick Foles for the third time on the third different team in a battle with Mitchell Trubisky for the starting quarterback job.

It's supposed to be an objective, even-handed fight for the coaches to judge, but it would be very easy to see built-in bias on the part of assistant coaches toward Foles or Trubisky.

"It's funny you say that, because I've been asked that before, by my buddies and stuff, and I just tell them, 'Hey guys, it's a new year. It's all about winning,'" DeFilippo said. "And we're going to put the best 11 guys out there that help the Chicago Bears."

The answer may not satisfy Bears fans anticipating an even-handed battle, or perhaps hoping against it.

It's an interesting dynamic brought to bear on the quarterback duel, with both DeFilippo and new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor possessing past experience coaching Foles but none with Trubisky. Meanwhile, coach Matt Nagy coached both and passing game coordinator Dave Ragone has extensive experience coaching only Trubisky.

Then there is general manager Ryan Pace, whose very reputation seems at stake in the view of many, because he drafted Trubisky.

The winner of this quarterback battle must be decided from among the men in this group by what Nagy and Pace insist is a "collaborative" decision.

DeFilippo thinks it's not hard to be objective even if he coached Foles when the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, then through four losses last year during the 2019 Jacksonville Jaguars nightmare.

"You know, I just became a parent, I just had my first daughter on July 31, and I would imagine that if I had another one, you wouldn't want to play favorites. You know what I'm saying?" DeFilippo said. "I'm just using a personal example right there.

"At the end of the day, the NFL is all about winning. It's all about winning.  We get a grade every week for 16 regular-season games and you pass or you fail. There's no in-between. There's no getting a C. It's either an F or an A. So we would be doing a disservice to our fans, our organization, our ownership if we put any bias into this at all."

Lazor pointed out his association with Foles occurred years ago, when in 2013, he was the Eagles' offensive coordinator under head coach Chip Kelly. Michael Vick initially beat out Foles in their quarterback battle, but a slow start led to Foles coming in, getting hot and leading them into the playoffs.

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"I just remember that he never stopped developing," Lazor said. "He was a young player at the time. He continued to work and work and work. So when the decision was made that Michael Vick would start, there was no blinking for Nick. He just kept going, kept going."

Ragone spent the last three years working closely with Trubisky. He freely admits the two are good friends.

"The reality of the situation is for all of us in this profession, in this business, is that this is a production league. It's a production business," Ragone said. "So Mitchell will always know off the football field how I feel about him. That's never going to change.

"And the reality is, the situation right now is let the best man go out and compete. And whoever leads their team during practice the best and shows us as coaches that they're going to go out there and compete and play well, then I'm sure that coach Nagy decides that person is the right guy to lead the football team."

Nagy has promised to be "open and honest" with each about how they're doing. In fact, he made it sound like he'll be brutally honest with both.

Lazor said it could eventually be a situation where it's not real close.

"You hope it's clear—it's not always clear," Lazor said. "And then that's when it gets really important that we're detailed on evaluating very specifically so that it's concrete, as much as possible, the numbers in front of us. And you go from there."

Even without preseason games, it can be a simple process.

"Whatever drill were doing, whether it be a live drill, whether it be a drill on the side with me, we want it to be tremendously competitive," DeFilippo said. "But at the end of the day, in that competitive environment, you want to see which guy moves this offense better. And I think it just really comes down to something as simple as that.

"Obviously when you're in the huddle, who's functioning better. But at the end of the day, which guy is raising the other 10 guys' level of play. Hopefully one of those guys steps up in that role sooner rather than later. That would be great for our football team."

Not to mention for the coaches.

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