Practice Notebook: Why Not Put Trubisky in the Bullpen?

| August 24th, 2020

There’s a prevailing wisdom circulating among the commentary class when it comes to the Chicago Bears quarterback “competition”. If there’s no clear, discernible victor in these practice sessions, why not give Mitch Trubisky the start of the season, on a short leash, with Nick Foles warming in the bullpen?

But why wouldn’t the opposite approach be considered?

I’m not a very good billiards player, but I have spent thousands of hours in barrooms and so I’ve played far too many games of pool. Often, when the balls are all clumped together on the rail and I have no shot, I employ what I call the “poke and hope” method. I poke the cue ball at the clump and hope something productive happens.

This is what the Bears would be doing by starting Trubisky against the Detroit Lions. They don’t actually believe the light will turn on. They don’t believe Mitch is going to turn into a front line starter in the NFL. But they would be putting him out there and hoping something productive happens. If it does, great. If not, Foles.

But if starting a QB the first week does not mean committing to him for the duration of the season, why not start the more proven commodity in Foles? Why not start the player who can read defenses, get into the right plays/protections and – subsequently – get the football to the playmakers? Foles clearly doesn’t have the athletic upside of Trubisky but if his stable, veteran presence allows the offense to move the football and capitalize off one of the league’s best defenses, who cares?

Also, bringing Trubisky off the bench might actually dilute some of the pressure on the kid. If the Bears started Foles and went to Trubisky, one would have to assume either (a) Foles was hurt or (b) the Bears were losing too many games. Bringing Mitch into that scenario might allow him to play with the freedom he has lacked throughout his young career. Pressure comes from expectations. At 1-3, the expectations will be dramatically lower.

Folks who argue for starting Trubisky do so because they’re clinging to hope. But the Bears have a championship defense. They have a collection of skill guys capable of giving opposing defenses fits. Do the Bears want to risk even losing a single game…for hope?