The Detroit Lions will play the Chicago Bears in their season opener two weeks from Sunday, but they might not know who they’ll face at quarterback until they take the field that day.
Bears coach Matt Nagy told reporters Saturday that he will not name a starting quarterback ahead of Week 1.
Mitchell Trubisky has started most of the last three seasons, but the Bears traded for Nick Foles this offseason to compete for the starting job.
The two quarterbacks have split reps with the first-team offense this summer. ESPN reported Saturday that Foles is believed to have the edge in the competition.
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Trubisky, the second pick in the 2017 draft — ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson — has struggled throughout his career and averaged a career-low 6.1 yards per pass attempt last season, but has played well against the Lions.
Over the last two seasons, Trubisky is 3-0 as a starter against the Lions. In 2019, he threw for 511 yards and six touchdowns with one interception in two November wins against Detroit, and had 12 touchdowns and nine picks in his 13 other starts.
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Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots in the 2017 season, when Lions coach Matt Patricia was the team’s defensive coordinator.
He started four games for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, but lost his starting job to a broken clavicle.
Asked to handicap the race before Nagy’s announcement, Lions backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who played with both Foles (in Philadelphia) and Trubisky (in Chicago), said he had “no idea” who would win the job.
“I think that’s a really good question,” Daniel said. “I guess we’ll see when whoever trots out on the field, whether it’s (No.) 10 or (No.) 9, first game of the year. I know they’re competing their tails off over there, but so are we and we’re focused on really the Detroit Lions right now.”
Daniel, who signed a three-year deal with the Lions in March, did not step foot inside the team’s Allen Park practice facility until late July but said it didn’t take him long to realize why Matthew Stafford and Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell clicked so quickly last season — they’re both extremely aggressive.
“They’re going to keep calling shots, they’re going to keep throwing the ball down the field.,” Daniel said. “Staff just continues to blow my mind on some of these throws, whether we’re watching in the film room or we’re seeing it live in person. I mean, he’s got a live arm and Bev just keeps calling them, he’s aggressive.”
Stafford averaged a career-best 8.6 yards per attempt last season, nearly 2 yards more than he averaged under Jim Bob Cooter in 2018.
Stafford threw for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in eight games last season, and Kenny Golladay led the NFL in touchdown catches.
Even after Stafford got hurt, the Lions continued to challenge defenses with throws downfield.
“I think Bev really set the tone with the offense in what for me was the first day in was just the amount of urgency that everyone needs to have,” Daniel said. “This is a such a weird offseason, such a short time we’re together. We didn’t get spring, we didn’t get OTAs, those eight, nine weeks that we had. So it was sort of a good position to be in because we have a lot of guys returning in our offense so we were able to hit the ground running and the new guys just got to catch up.”
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