Emma's Tailgater: Bears' offense can open up more with Nick Foles in charge

Foles has the skill set to operate everything coach Matt Nagy wants to call.
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(670 The Score) Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey surely had no intention of sideswiping now-backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, but that's what he did when referencing a pass that new starter Nick Foles made last Sunday.

In speaking to reporters earlier this week, Furrey was asked about a back-shoulder throw from Foles that landed perfectly into the hands of receiver Javon Wims in the fourth quarter.

"Obviously, we haven’t had a lot of those the last two or three years," Furrey said. "So that’s going to happen now."

Incidentally, Furrey provided a glimpse of what the Bears had been lacking with Trubisky -- and what they hope to gain with Foles. It's much more than just those back-shoulder passes.

Trubisky lost his starting job because he couldn't consistently execute the Bears' offense in the way the team believes Foles can. He missed reads on intermediate designs and far too often failed to connect on deep balls. Bears coach Matt Nagy continued to tailor his offense around what Trubisky could and couldn't do. He got tired of it.

The Bears traded for Foles back in March because they were confident he could bring what Trubisky can't -- poise and the ability to operate whatever Nagy wants to call. Rather than wondering what Trubisky will bring each Sunday, Nagy knows what he has in Foles, who offers the Bears a better opportunity to be consistent on offense. That should give the defense more time to rest and, in turn, the Bears a better chance to win each week.

Foles doesn't leave the Bears limited, and now we're wondering where they could go from here as they prepare to host the Colts (2-1) at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Open field: Mack attack

What has edge rusher Khalil Mack brought to the Bears' defense? So far, a lot more than just 1.5 sacks in three games.

Mack is sometimes a target of criticism because of his $140-million contract. It comes with the territory. But the Bears know Mack's impact is felt in more than just the numbers. They watch the film and see a player taking on double- and triple-team blocks that create opportunities for the rest of the defense.

"No matter if it’s one blocker, two blockers, three, he’s having an effect on the game," fellow edge rusher Robert Quinn said of Mack. "That being said, all the guys, we have to make sure if he’s taking on double and triple teams, we got to step and make sure we fulfill our duties. Even though he may not make the play on that specific play, to have a guy take three blockers on, that’s doing a great job for the defense.

"The rest of us that are out there, we have to make sure we do our job too and we’re not strictly relying on Mack Man making all the plays."

Mack has recorded 22.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 11 forced fumbles in 33 career games in a Bears uniform. Beyond that, key part of why the Bears paid Mack the record contract was for what he brings to the rest of the defense. Quinn was brought in to take advantage of the double- and triple-team blocks that Mack and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks may take. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has admitted he must do a better job creating pressure around those blocks that often greet Mack.

The Bears know Mack will be giving his best to work around them.

"His mindset is that, 'I will not be denied no matter what the call is, no matter what the play is," outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said. "'I am going to be physically dominant down in and down out.' And I think he proves that every single day, practice, game, it doesn't matter."

4-down territory

1.) Hat tip for Trubisky
Upon learning he would be benched last Sunday, Trubisky approached Foles on the sidelines and immediately offered his support.

"I have your back like you had mine," Trubisky told Foles.

The Bears have always viewed Trubisky as a tremendous teammate. In the aftermath of his demotion, they lauded him again for his demeanor. Trubisky took ownership of his mistakes and accepted the move to Foles. He supported the team during its comeback from down 16 points in the fourth quarter. Then Trubisky addressed the media about his benching.

"Coach made a decision that he felt was best for the team," Trubisky said. "I'm really happy for this team. They battled back. It was awesome to get a W."

Nagy met with both Foles and Trubisky during the team's plane ride from Atlanta to Chicago, then came to the conclusion Monday morning that it would be Foles continuing on as the starter. While the inconsistent play of Trubisky warranted the move for Foles, the process of making that move proved to be difficult.

"People think these are easy decisions to make," quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said. "They’re not. Because there are real people involved. There are people who have given a lot of their time, sweat and blood for our team who are in these decisions."

2.) Mooney's move
When did Nagy and the Bears know they might have something in rookie receiver Darnell Mooney? The first day of preseason camp.

"We knew, ‘OK, yeah, this one’s real,'" Nagy recalled. "It was pretty neat to see. Because you see it on tape, and you never really know. That’s what’s so beautiful about the offseason, is that you’re able to see guys that you hit on or maybe you missed on. You get a feeling for it.

"We saw the way that he ran routes and the way that he caught, his personality. The next question was, ‘OK, great, looks good in shorts and a T-shirt, but what about when pads come on?’ And then the pads came on, and he kept doing it. And he kept doing it."

Mooney earned a jersey for Chicago's opener at Detroit, which was a bit surprising at the time. Then he went out and had three receptions in his debut and caught a touchdown in his second game.

The Bears won't be shy about increasing Mooney's role, and he'll remain hungry for more success.

"I’m always unsatisfied," Mooney said. "Regardless of what’s going on. I can go out there and have five touchdowns this weekend and I’ll still be unsatisfied because I didn’t get six."

3.) Still a close bond
When he takes to Soldier Field on Sunday, Foles will be looking across at a man who helped save his career.

That man is Colts coach Frank Reich, who was the Eagles' offensive coordinator during the 2017 season in which Foles led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl championship.

"I mean, he was the one who really figured me out as a player and realized that we had it all wrong," Foles said of Reich. "They just threw some plays out there one day and said just, 'Go play these plays, we studied you and these are the plays you do.' And sure enough, something triggered inside of me. He figured me out as a player to where even during games when I'd come to the sidelines he was like -- usually coaches want to coach you up and all this -- he'd go, 'Just keep doing it, just keep doing it.'

"He was like, 'I trust you, just go do your thing.' I think no matter what, if I threw an interception or I threw a touchdown, he cared more about the person than the player. And that says a lot about him and that's why I have all the respect in the world. Anyone who has played for Frank would probably say the same thing."

4.) Mask up
In light of the Titans' coronavirus outbreak that forced a postponement of their game against the Steelers on Sunday, Nagy is reinforcing the health protocols put in place for the Bears and each team.

“It wakes you up for sure," Nagy said. "We’ve done a pretty good here and the players are, I don’t know if I would use the word annoyed, but we stay on them pretty consistently. We are persistent in regards in nagging them to the masks always being on.

"It just reiterates here the importance of all of us always having the masks on. When you really think about it, it’s really not that hard to put a mask on. Just wear your mask and wear it all the time. It’s not hard. And what that does is it stops things."

Quote to note:
"So many times as people, we think when we have a bad game or a bad moment or something like the world is against us. And that’s not really the case. And I’ve said it over and over again that the tough times, they’re not fun, but they equip you for what’s ahead as long as you approach it with the right heart."
-- Foles reflecting on his career

Injury report
OLB Khalil Mack (knee) -- Mack will continue to take each week of work lightly so he can be as active each Sunday.

DB Deon Bush (groin) -- Though he isn't a full-time starter at safety, Bush has worked in 21% of the Bears' snaps on defense. His absence would be a loss.

DB Sherrick McManis (hamstring) -- The Bears hope to have a key special teams player healthy soon enough.

Prediction (3-0): Bears 24, Colts 20
Naturally, this game will come down to Philip Rivers having the ball in his hands with less than two minutes to go – like seemingly every game of his career. But the Bears will hold on to improve to 4-0.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images