Bears' mystery at quarterback adds another adjustment for Lions in 'unique' opener
As the Lions enter their final week of training camp, there’s no peeking ahead to start planning for the opener against the Chicago Bears.
Not that they could anyway, as coach Matt Patricia is intent on getting through the final week of workouts and focusing internally instead of worrying about what their Week 1 opponent is doing.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said Saturday that he won’t announce whether Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles will be the opening-game starter for the Sept. 13 matchup at Ford Field.
“(An announcement) won't be happening before that game,” Nagy told reporters on a videoconference. “For us, we like where they are at, but that's an internal question for our coaches. That's more gamesmanship than anything. But we know there can definitely be improvement for both of them. They are making good decisions. There are times they are making good throws. There are times they are making throws they'd like to have back.
“I'll put it this way: Intentionally, I'm not going to give you any direction right now.”
That gamesmanship makes things a little more difficult for the Lions, who will do more game preparation next week. Without the benefit of preseason games to assess which quarterback is playing more snaps or what tweaks the Bears have made, it’s something of a guessing game.
During the pandemic, many teams will be guessing, making the first week more of an exercise in learning on the fly and making in-game adjustments to what the coaches and players are seeing in the early parts of the game.
“Obviously, we’ve been in those situations where we’ve had to prepare for a couple of different quarterbacks and what will be unique is the first game without any sort of idea of what anybody's doing, really,” Patricia said Monday morning via teleconference. “No preseason games, no evaluations of players, other than what we've seen last year.
“I think it'll be a big game for adjustments, a big game to go in and hopefully just play good, fundamental football and not do anything that's going to hurt you in the game and those things like turn the ball over or penalties. Just go play a good football game and then obviously coach it up as we go through the game and figure it out.”
Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has won his last three starts against the Lions, with 866 passing yards, completing 75% of his passes, with nine touchdowns and just one interception.
Patricia said there is some difference in how they’d game-plan for either Trubisky or Foles, but the Lions won’t go overboard trying to overload the defense with contingencies for either.
“We'll obviously do studies on everybody that's available for that position, and make sure we're ready to go, based on what they do and who they put out there,” Patricia said. “It'll be interesting to see. They're a little bit different in that aspect of it and certainly we have a familiarity with Trubisky and what he's done from past games and things like that.
“But certainly, I think (Foles) has a little bit of a different style — same athleticism — but you still have to be alert for quarterback athleticism and things like that but maybe some of the game plan stuff that they decide to do may be a little bit different."