On fourth-and-5 from the Saints’ 36 early in the fourth quarter, Bears quarterback Nick Foles received the snap at the 41 and backpedaled to the 48, where he threw a pass off his back foot.
That pass — an errant-looking one from the beginning — sailed 5 yards over the head of receiver Allen Robinson and into the hands of cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who dropped what would have been his second interception of the game.
As the Fox broadcast came back from a break, play-by-play man Joe Buck and analyst Troy Aikman were ready with another critique on the Bears’ quarterback situation.
“A straight backpedal by Foles off the snap,” Buck said. “I would imagine Mitchell Trubisky is sitting on the bench going, what’s it going to take.”
If you watched the game, you know that Aikman was wondering the same thing.
“Yeah, I’m sure there is some of that,” the Hall of Fame quarterback responded. “I’m sure there is a lot of things running through a lot of these players’ minds right now.”
I’m not surprised that Jahns highlighted this comment. He and his podcast partner Adam Hoge have been leaning in Trubisky’s direction for this job since the preseason. Both tend to be more positively inclined toward the Bears in general and Trubisky in particular than most fans or other members of the media. Not too positively inclined, of course. No one with eyes who wanted to maintain any credibility could be. But more so than most.
Let’s start with this. Whatever the Bears problems on offense are, Trubisky isn’t the answer. I’ve heard it said that Trubisky would be in the process of being crucified if he made some of the throw that Foles did on Sunday and that is absolutely correct. But Foles has had 5 games with this team as the starter. Trubisky had more than three years.
Trubisky wasn’t progressing. At the beginning of this season he looked far too much like he did last year and, at least as a passer, that looked far too much like it did the year before. There was simply no hope of improvement there any more and, injury to Foles aside, going back to him would be an admission that you just don’t feel the Bears can get any better at the position this year.
Having said that, Foles obviously really worries me. The most disturbing thing I saw on Sunday was his obvious fear of the pass rush. The play highlighted above was far and away the worst example but for most of the game, Foles was skittish in the pocket and failed to step up, even when the makeshift offensive line had done its job and kept it clean in front of him.
Foles is getting to an age where these problems start to crop up. At 31 years old it would be a tad early but older quarterbacks don’t stand up to the rush in the same way that they did when they were younger and dumber.
Remember Tom Brady forgetting what down it was at the end of the Buccaneers game after the Bears knocked him around a bit a few weeks ago? That’s what Foles looked and acted like, at one point completely forgetting to look at the play clock and taking a delay of game penalty. The Bears at times have struggled just to get lined up and head coach Matt Nagy, himself, has implied that this was partly Foles’ fault on Sunday when he wondered how such a thing could happen when you are reading the plays off of a wrist band.
If I had any positive thoughts about the position it was that, despite throwing off of his back foot all game, Foles still made some good throws. When Trubisky tried to do that, almost none looked that good.
But that’s not much comfort.
Foles probably isn’t the biggest problem with the offense right now. And neither is the much criticized play-calling. Lack of concentration and execution is. The Bears are undisciplined, as indicated by their league leading penalty count. They had two critical drops in overtime that arguably cost them the game on Sunday. In addition to not even being able to get lined up, mental mistakes, especially along the offensive line, are far too frequent.
But even given all that there’s only so far the offense can improve with quarterback play that is mediocre at its best.
It looks like Bears fans are going to be stuck once again riding it out every Sunday with the hopes that general manager Ryan Pace can find another quarterback in the offseason. With limited cap space in a year where the cap is expected to go down, he’s going to have to get in line with the rest of the league and over-draft one whether he likes it or not.
Until then, our eyes will just have to bleed.