Three Reasons Why Mitchell Trubisky Makes This a Fight

Mitchell Trubisky has three things working on his side which could help to make his quarterback battle against Nick Foles into a tough decision for Chicago Bears coaches
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The popular narrative has Mitchell Trubisky failing miserably in an attempt to retain his job as starting Chicago Bears quarterback and then leaving Chicago after this season.

No quarterback in the game takes more abuse than Trubisky.

No quarterback who has had his fifth-year option declined, like Trubisky, has ever been with his original team when his fifth year rolled around. 

On the other hand, Trubisky is much better statistically than any other quarterback who had his fifth-year option declined except for Teddy Bridgewater, whose option was declined for medical reasons.

Nonetheless, in the last week both NFL.com and Pro Football Focus released their projected starting lineups and put Nick Foles in the starting spot ahead of Trubisky.

ESPN's Bill Barnwell has labeled Trubisky among the biggest losers of 2020, although that did mean he earned the same label as Aaron Rodgers.

Odds makers in Vegas have installed Nick Foles a favorite at -300 to Trubisky's +200, meaning bet $300 to win $100 for Foles, beat $100 to win $200 on Trubisky.

If you're actually using the Vegas lines for something other than amusement, Trubisky might be the better bet.

Here's why:

1. Nick Foles' starting numbers aren't much better

It's probably not a popular thing to say, and in Philadelphia where they boo Santa Claus there is no question who the more popular St. Nick is, but Foles just isn't a consistently successful NFL quarterback. 

This leaves Trubisky an opening. 

Foles has had meteoric spurts and drops like he'd been thrown into the grand canyon.

Everyone knows about Foles' postseason success, winning Super Bowl MVP. Foles had the highest career postseason passer rating in NFL history at 105.2 before the Eagles lost their playoff game in January, 2019 with the New Orleans Saints, his sixth postseason game. By the way, he was outplayed in the fifth postseason game by a quarterback named Trubisky.

The thing about Foles' success is his regular-season play has been largely average and not the heightened level he achieved in postseason. His 88.2 career passer rating and 7.0 yards per pass attempt are decent, not great. They're a bit better than Trubisky's 85.8 and 6.7, but have not been founded based on starting and playing through a 16-game schedule as starter.

It's much easier to maintain a higher statistical level when you're playing a spurt here because someone else stunk or was injured, or you've been named the starter and play only eight or four games before you're hurt, than it is to play through a full NFL regular season.

Starters who struggle like Foles did with the Rams get benched, then keep from having their statistics become even worse. The same thing happened last year with Jacksonville. Foles came back after missing most the season, wasn't good and went back to the bench while Gardner Minshew played. Foles was trending down but got that effect stopped by being benched.

Trubisky obviously struggled at times but with the exception of last year's loss to the Rams he has had to stay on the field throughout three seasons once he became their starter and take the lumps as well as the hits to his statistics.

Foles has never started more than 11 games in a regular season and the last time he started more than five was in 2015.

Even when you take these all into account, some of Trubisky's efforts were every bit as good. 

In 2018, Football Outsiders listed his QBR—an objective metric for quarterbacks created by ESPN—as the third best in the NFL behind only Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes.

Foles has never been very good with this statistic. He's been behind Trubisky all three years Trubisky has been in the league, including the 2017 season when he eventually became St. Nick.

2. Mitchell Trubisky knows this offense better

Mitchell Trubisky knows this offense better and Foles is only getting virtual exposure to the attack at this point.

Sure, Foles played in the Andy Reid offense in 2012 in Philadelphia for seven games and six starts. He played in it with Kansas City for three games and one start, then in Philadelphia again for 17 total regular-season and postseason games with 13 starts.

Foles' Philadelphia regular-season passer rating in Reid's offense was 90.3 and his yards per attempt a paltry 6.6. That's a lower yards/attempt than Trubisky has in the Andy Reid-style offense (6.7) with the Bears and the passer rating is similar (88.7).

The thing is, Foles never has played in the Matt Nagy offense. He played in the Andy Reid offense and the Doug Pederson offense.

"There's a learning curve there a little bit," Nagy said during a teleconference with reporters.

It would seem all the Andy Reid-style offenses would be the same, but Nagy added, "... that couldn't be further from the truth."

However, it isn't like Foles comes in a wide-eyed rookie trying to learn a completely foreign way of playing.

"For the most part, it's a lot easier for him when he comes into it," Nagy said. "Knowledge of the offense at that point helps. This is a kid who's been through a lot of different situations; he's been a Super Bowl MVP, he's been in pressure moments and he understands a lot of things that we're looking for."

But he hasn't played in the Nagy offense and Trubisky has started in it 29 times.

3. Home-field advantage

The Bears say this will be an open quarterback battle.

"I think when we say open competition, this is a open competition," GM Ryan Pace said. "They've both been told that and I think it's the best way to do it. I think the good thing is honesty and transparency with both players as we go through it. We want what's best for the Chicago Bears."

Yet, somewhere in the back of everyone's mind is the lingering thought Pace would just love to see Trubisky step up and be the guy for the sake of vindication.

If you look at past statistical breakdowns, the difference between the two quarterbacks aside from Foles' big postseason performance in Philadelphia has been very close.

If it's almost even, who gets the job?

Pace was asked if it's hard to get beyond a natural bias he'd have for his own drafted players.

"You have to," Pace said. "You have to be honest with yourself and what's best for our team. And so, I think just getting different opinions. This isn't a dictatorship, you know? This is a very collaborative effort."

Some of those eyes include new coaches like Bill Lazor and John DeFilippo.

"I think it helps, too, when you bring new people into the building," Pace said. "We have new coaches that come in with fresh eyes and taking advantage of that."

In the end, though, you have to expect Pace would love to see Trubisky be the quarterback.

Knowing that, in a close battle who gets the nod?

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven