5 Ways Nick Foles Can Transform the Bears Offense

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2020

5 Ways Nick Foles Can Transform the Bears Offense

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears did the seemingly inevitable in Week 3, putting an apparent end to the Mitchell Trubisky era by yanking him in favor of Nick Foles.

    Foles, he of Super Bowl and clutch fame, proceeded to throw three touchdown passes as the Bears stormed back from a 26-10 deficit to take down the Atlanta Falcons and stay perfect.

    Opinions will vary on whether the move was inevitable. Trubisky, after all, had led the team to a 2-0 mark. But at the same time, the Bears were down by 16 against one of the NFL's worst defenses, so it was sort of a "why not?" move for Matt Nagy and his staff.

    The results speak for themselves, too. And the dynamic will change further with Foles getting starter's reps in practice and the potential expansion of the playbook. Here's a look at how things might change and who could benefit after the big shake-up.

More Looks for WRs

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Bears wide receivers are about to get more work.

    Before Foles entered the game Sunday, Chicago was 1-of-7 on third downs, and its wideouts hadn't done much. Trubisky had misfired on deep shots to Ted Ginn Jr., Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller, including a potential touchdown.

    Foles not only registered three conversions, with two going for touchdowns, but he also said the 28-yard game-winner to Miller was merely a matter of throwing to a certain spot on the field, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:

    "When we were in the huddle, I had explained to Anthony that if I do happen to kill it, I'm going to throw it to the 'L' [in the 'ATL' end zone logo]. So get to the 'L' and it'll be a pretty stiff ball. I knew, just in case I didn't have time to get it off cleanly, he would be there. We had that conversation and he did his job. We executed."

    The play was classic Foles—he stood strong in a collapsing pocket and delivered a strike for a score. He had two other touchdown tosses overturned by officials.

    That's two game-winners already for Miller, who has matched his scoring output from a season ago. After not catching more than five passes in Weeks 1 and 2, Allen Robinson II erupted for 10 grabs, 123 yards and a touchdown.

A Jimmy Graham Revival?

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    The Bears raised some eyebrows this offseason when they gave tight end Jimmy Graham, at the age of 33, a two-year, $16 million deal.

    Graham, after all, was a flop with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers over the last two seasons, catching just five touchdowns on 149 targets.

    He's caught three scores on 18 targets with Chicago.

    The veteran broke out in Week 3 en route to finishing second on the team in receiving yards, catching six passes for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns. One of those scoring passes came from Trubisky.

    It wouldn't be shocking if Graham's target share (10 in Week 3, second on the team) remained consistently high with Foles behind center. The veteran does a better job of reading what the defense gives him than Trubisky and flicks through his progressions faster and arguably with better accuracy, so Graham's production won't be tied to whether he's the first or second option on a play.

    And with Tarik Cohen out for the season because of a torn ACL, Foles is going to need a safety net. When Graham is the first option on a play, Foles can exploit mismatches with confidence. When he's not, the ball might make it to him anyway.

Room for David Montgomery

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    David Montgomery had an encouraging rookie season a year ago, running for 889 yards and six scores on a 3.7 average and catching 25 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.

    But there was a sense the third-round product had hardly scratched the surface of his potential, especially because the circumstances—highlighted by Trubisky's play—weren't the greatest.

    This is a dynamic of the offense that changes with Foles manning the responsibilities under center, too.

    Defenses can't creep up now and stack the box. Foles has the ability to punish them, whether it's by checking to another play at the line or by improvising after the snap.

    The game script crushed Montgomery's role against the Falcons, but things will change with Foles likely keeping games closer. And even so, Montgomery has already rushed for 191 yards on a 4.4-yard average, so the arrow was pointing up. Add in the absence of Cohen, meaning more work for Montgomery in the passing game, and the Iowa State product could be on the way to a massive season.

    Given Montgomery's talent, he could become the centerpiece of the offense. He's a three-down back and will have more room to work in addition to the uptick in usage.

Life Easier on the Defense

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    With Foles, the Bears are likely to have fewer drives end before they probably should. That, at least on paper, means less time on the field for the defense—and potentially better field situations.

    Look at the third quarter Sunday, when Trubisky threw a horrific interception with the Falcons already up 23-10. Blidi Wreh-Wilson returned it to within field-goal range, placing great stress on the Bears defense. Chicago allowed only three points when put in that terrible position, but its offensive drive should not have ended when it did; Trubisky acknowledged he just didn't see Wreh-Wilson.

    Get this: Sunday marked the first time since Week 15 of the 2013 season that the Bears allowed 25 points and won. To say the pressure is off the defense is an understatement.

    It will remain that way unless Foles regresses and starts making the same mistakes Trubisky did.

More Scoring

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    This one sounds basic, if not a little silly.

    But not necessarily to Bears fans. Over the course of 44 starts by Trubisky, the Chicago offense scored 20 or more points just 15 times, per Biggs. It's a staggering reality and played into the idea that the defense had to carry the team or it wouldn't win.

    It doesn't have to be that way.

    All the prior points play into this one. Foles will get first-team reps, and through his ability to dissect defenses, everyone around him should see a bump in productivity.

    Which isn't to say Foles doesn't have limitations. He's a career 61.8 percent passer and a journeyman for a reason. He's had injury problems in part because, for all the good it does in moving the ball, he stands tall in the pocket and absorbs too many hits. And since defenses will now prepare for him and not Trubisky, he won't catch them by surprise.

    But the Bears acquired Foles for a reason. He's an ideal match schematically with Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, and he can get more out of the assembled cast than Trubisky.

    As a bonus, Foles will operate with a 3-0 head start. His first action came without first-team reps and on short notice. While the context of his career is important, the fact he started hot is nothing if not encouraging for the Bears.

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