There can be no doubt that at the very top of the list of key storylines surrounding the Chicago Bears this season is their open competition for the starting quarterback job.
The futures of Mitch Trubisky and general manager Ryan Pace have been joined at the hip since the day Pace drafted Trubisky. What impact will Pace hiring Nick Foles to possibly prove he was wrong about Trubisky have? And how will the realities of our current public-health crisis alter all of that and more?
Both Trubisky and Foles visited with media Friday, sharpening the focus on their impending battle.
Having already radically altered that open competition by wiping out the off-season, a significant chunk of this training camp and all exhibition games, there is no question the coronavirus is making it a lot tougher for either QB to clearly seize the starting job on the football field.
“When you get on the field, you just try not to think about it and just play football, which we’ve been doing,” Trubisky said. “It’s just the new normal for this year. It’s going to be not a normal season, obviously, but we just got to adapt, adjust on the fly and see how things go.
“I think everyone’s done a great job of adapting, being selfless and taking care of yourself when you’re outside of the building, being as safe as possible.”
Due to public awareness of some of the health issues Foles and his family have dealt with in the last year or so, there was some speculation as to whether he would choose to compete or opt out.
“I think myself as well as every other player had conversations with their family, their loved ones, about what to do in this situation,” Foles said. “My wife and I both felt strongly about pursuing playing this season. There was never a discussion about opting out, but when that came out, you have those discussions about different things, and I respect everyone who is.
“I mean I get it. I have a 7-week-old son. My wife and I went through a miscarriage last year. We have a 3-year-old daughter. You have to weigh those different things. But it was one of those things where my wife and I both felt great pursuing being in Chicago.”
On the battle for the starting job, Trubisky said all the doubters questioning whether he can claim it do far more to motivate than distract him.
“Yeah. Definitely, for me it’s very motivating,” he said. “You’re always going to have people writing you off. It’s got to light a fire under you, which it has for me, and I’m just trying to prove everybody wrong and prove my teammates right.
“For people who write you off, I mean, that definitely motivates you in a way that you just want to go out there and play as best you possibly can, so I’m definitely fired up. I think for me it’s easy, just with everything everyone’s said about me, and now being in a quarterback competition, every day I’m just trying to bring that edge.”
Foles obviously has had a lot more experience than Trubisky with situations like this and is a lot more philosophical.
“You know what, it’s the situation. You can’t say it’s tough; it is the situation,” Foles said. “My mindset is that I have to embrace it. I just simplify it in my head. I’m not worried about, ‘Oh, am I at a disadvantage? Am I this?’ I don’t really care.
“Like I’ve said before, if I’m the first, second, third, I’m going to go be myself and I’m going to play. But you’ll hear me say over and over again: It’s just going out there, playing ball and whatever happens, happens.
“We’re all part of the Chicago Bears. The biggest thing is, we have to make this team better.”
Which guy claims the job remains to be seen, but this much seems clear: While a number of pundits expect Trubisky could wilt under the pressure of fighting for his Bears future, he appears to be embracing it. And Friday, Foles confirmed everything we’ve been told by Pace and head coach Matt Nagy about why he could be the perfect competition for Mitch.