I say learned, because this isn’t his arbitrary ranking, it’s a poll where he asked 50 NFL coaches and evaluators to rate 35 veteran quarterbacks. He’s done this exercise for the last several years, but for the last two years he done it for The Athletic.
Sando asked his experts to place the quarterbacks into five tiers, with the 1st being the best and the 5th being the worst. The players were then ranked accordingly and placed in the tier in which they received the most votes.
Since the Bears have two quarterbacks fighting for the QB1 gig for head coach Matt Nagy, Sando’s analysts gave input on both Foles and Trubisky.
Foles ranked 26th overall and last in the third tier which is described like this. “A Tier 3 quarterback is a legitimate starter but needs a heavier running game and/or defensive component to win. A lower-volume dropback passing offense suits him best.”
He was also in the third a year ago, and this year the voting tally had one tier 2 vote, 27 votes in the third, and 22 in the fourth tier. His average tier was 3.42 and he checked in right below the Giants Daniel Jones and in front of the Raiders’ backup Marcus Mariota.
Here’s what Sando wrote about Foles.
The Bears have two quarterbacks in the survey and the highest-ranked one is not Mitch Trubisky. Foles’ spectacular run as the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning backup, when contrasted with his failed stints as an opening-week starter, cemented his reputation as the ultimate relief pitcher while giving him the edge over Trubisky among voters. Is this a case of a team with two quarterbacks having no quarterback?
“As bad as Trubisky is, I know Foles is even worse, just watching him in Jacksonville last year,” a defensive coordinator said. “He could have stuck to his backup quarterback role, come in as a relief pitcher, but some guys like him and (Ryan) Fitzpatrick want to be starters, and that gets them exposed.”
Not that anyone should fault Foles for accepting the fat contract Jacksonville offered him last offseason, a deal the Bears acquired and reworked upon adding him. In fairness to Foles, he has performed pretty well in good situations (Philadelphia) and struggled in bad situations (Jacksonville, St. Louis).
“You can win with him, but everything has to be right and you have to play his type of offense,” a personnel director said. “You saw what they did with him when they won the Super Bowl with the Eagles. They went back to Chip Kelly’s offense a little bit, a lot of read-option, play-action off the read option and threw it when they had to throw it. If he has to throw it every down, you are going to lose games.”
Luckily the Bears run an Andy Reid-like offense he’s familiar with, plus Nagy likes to work in run pass options as well. If they can figure out the run scheme and marry that to what they want to do in the passing game, maybe we see them do more play action too.
Trubisky was 32nd ranked overall and in the fourth tier after being a third tier guy a year ago, but his average was actually higher than Foles at 3.96. He was in a lower tier because 32 experts placed him in tier 4, while only 10 had him in tier 3, with 8 voters putting him in the fifth. Here’s how they describe the fourth. “A Tier 4 quarterback could be an unproven player with some upside or a veteran who is ultimately best suited as a backup.”
Fingers crossed there’s still some untapped upside in Mitch, but I fear he’s best suited as a backup at this point in his career. He’s ranked right in front of Washington’s Dwayne Haskins and behind a tie of Drew Lock and Gardner Minshew.
Here’s what Sando wrote about Trubisky.
Eight voters placed Trubisky in the rarely used fifth tier, reserved for players who shouldn’t be in the conversation as starters at all. But he also drew 10 votes in the third tier from voters who thought Trubisky proved as a rookie he could be a legitimate starter on a team with a strong defense and sufficient running game. The Bears went to the playoffs using that formula in 2018.
“He had a legitimate skillset enough to be drafted in the first round,” a head coach said. “I don’t think anybody will deny that. You just would have hoped — a lot of these guys come in the league and they get better incrementally. You just saw things on tape, saw some things live where it wasn’t getting better, and then the Bears saw that, too. They can say what they want, but it’s obviously why they brought in Foles.”
The Bears have scored 17 or more points in only 57 percent of Trubisky’s starts, counting playoffs. That ranks 22nd out of 23 quarterbacks with at least 32 starts over the past three seasons. The Raiders’ Carr is the only quarterback ranked lower. Mahomes leads the way at 97.2 percent.
“I don’t see any elite trait,” a defensive coach said. “Trubisky doesn’t have a great arm. Josh Allen has a freak-show arm. Trubisky is an OK athlete, but he is not this super-dynamic athlete. Usually, the guys like that who make it are mentally ahead of everyone else, but I didn’t get that from him, either. I did not see him diagnosing, getting the ball out in 1.5 seconds, knowing where to go with it. We caught him on a couple disguises. I’m like, what does this guy do? What is his X-Man ability?”
Another coach compared Trubisky to Mark Sanchez, who went to two AFC Championship Games with a strong defense and running game on his side, only to regress under intense scrutiny in a major media market, until he was finally cast aside.
“I think he can function,” a GM said. “Is he great? No. But is he as bad as the media portrays him? No.”
The problem with game managing your way to success with a great defense is the team has to be constructed to be a grind it out, ball control offense, and that’s not how general manager Ryan Pace built this team. Pace thought he had his quarterback in place so he built an offense around what he thought was his franchise QB.
Even if Trubisky loses his battle to be the first string QB, odds are he’s going to play at some point. Foles’ injury history tells us that. So maybe with the pressure off and the ability to sit and learn for a while, we’ll see Trubisky take that jump in play we all wanted him to make a year ago.
It’s eye-opening to see with the NFL coaches and evaluators have to say about all the quarterbacks they looked at, so be sure to check out the full article at The Athletic, and let us know your thoughts on what they had to say about Nick and Mitch in the comment section.