Nick Foles is looking to put his stamp on coach Matt Nagy's offense.
Through three games of action, Foles has already experienced a rollercoaster at the helm of the Bears offense: leading a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, sputtering against the Indianapolis Colts and doing just enough to edge out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Foles still considers the offense to be a work in progress.
"I don't think we're where we want to be in the passing game right now," said Foles. "We want to be a lot more efficient, [be] a lot better. But I also know there's a progression. It doesn't just happen overnight. It's never happened overnight, ever, in my career. It's really just continue to push forward and continue to self-scout, continue to go out there working on things, throwing routes, talking about different situations, talking about where I want [the receivers] to be, what they see, stuff like that, coverage recognition by me and the receivers and the tight ends and running backs."
Foles took over the starting job just in time to face the two best defenses the Bears would face in the early part of the season. Against the Buccaneers, his confidence, gained through nearly a decade of experience, was on display.
"You all are figuring out and understanding how opinionated Nick is, right?" said Nagy. "He is, and you like that about him. When you have those opinions, and you have stuff to back it up with the experience that he's had, he's kind of developed who he is now as a quarterback. What's nice is that on the personal side, the relationship that we have with each other."
Television commentators picked up on an exchange between the quarterback and coach in the fourth quarter of the Buccaneers game. Some observers felt that Foles appeared to be arguing with Nagy about the pace of the offense after a promising drive had stalled out, and the offense was forced to settle for a field goal.
Nagy says that the interpretation of that discussion is entirely wrong.
"In the game the other day, Nick was joking about it with me," said Nagy. "It's funny because on the sideline, when he was talking to me about picking the pace up and doing different things, some people can take that like we were arguing, and he was laughing about it because that's not who we are. That's how you talk through things, and you figure out what you like and don't like, especially the both of us."
The Bears' 4-1 record has positioned the team for a potential playoff run, but skeptics remain around the league. With four close wins, the team has yet to put four quarters of consistent offense together. However, Foles sees an identity forming around the hard-fought games.
"The games we've played in have shown a lot about our team and our locker room," said Foles. "We're not going to give up. We're never out of a game. We've shown that. It's been a wild first five games of the season. That being said, it just goes back to the same thing: we know the season is a long season, and there's a lot of things that are going to happen."
Foles sees himself as better prepared than he was during the 2017 season, which saw him step in for an injured Carson Wentz and lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory. To maximize his position, Foles acknowledges that he needs to grow into the offense around him.
"My knowledge now is bigger than three years ago," said Foles, "and my comfortability with plays is greater than last year. But the thing is, with [it] being with a newer staff and new players, and it's Matt's first time where he's calling plays for me, there's a crash course in everyone being on the same page to where we go out there and execute. And so we've continued to do that. That's a daily thing."
One possible outcome of their discussion last week may be growing respect between Nagy and Foles. Such respect, Foles believes, is critical to forming an offensive identity.
"Like, if there's things that I see," said Foles, "just letting me roll and letting me do my thing as a play-caller out there, let me call a play. And that's something where that trust just builds, and making sure I don't sort of throw [Nagy] off, and that's something in my past with certain play-callers where having that freedom has been huge. And coach Nagy's been open to everything. "
Foles even gave the media a peek into his vision about what the offense will look like in the coming months.
"I think it's an offense that you know every single play will be dangerous," said Foles, "and it'll be tough, and there won't be any plays to where the defense recognizes what we're doing. It will really come down to just, the only way we beat ourselves is if we don't execute the play because they'll be there. What does that look like? I don't know yet, and I'm not going to tell you all, but I have some ideas, and we have some ideas, but it's just continue to believe and continue to work, and right now, we're working through [that]."