Ever since Nick Foles was named the Bears' starting quarterback Sept. 28, coach Matt Nagy has cautioned that an acclimation period was necessary.
He knew that a struggling offense wasn't going to turn into a juggernaut overnight. Not with Foles still needing to gain familiarity with the scheme and cohesiveness with his new teammates after all offseason practices and the entire preseason was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Nagy reiterated that message Thursday, confident that the offense will improve and thrilled that the Bears have continued to win despite struggling to score points and create explosive plays.
"I knew when I made the decision, it wasn't going to be like a magic wand where [Foles] just all of a sudden comes in and lights it up or does this or does that," Nagy said. "That wasn't going to happen. It's going to take a little bit of time. The good thing is that we're winning. The good thing is that we understand we've got to get better."
Foles is accustomed to the assimilation process. He has switched teams five times in the last six seasons, moving from the Eagles to the Rams in 2015, to the Chiefs in 2016, back to the Eagles in 2017, to the Jaguars in 2019 and to the Bears in 2020. Each change required a transition period.
"It's just human nature," Foles said. "You're with new people. You're with a new offense. You're in a new place. Your family just moved. There are a lot of moving parts.
"I'm in this offense, but it's not like I'm stepping into my Philadelphia offense and I can go run it like I did in Philadelphia. I'm starting over from phase one. There might be some similarities to have that set foundation, but that takes time."
So far this year, Foles has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 878 yards with six touchdowns, four interceptions and an 80.4 passer rating.
The two best seasons of Foles' career were not overnight successes. The first came in 2013, his second year with the Eagles, when he replaced an injured Michael Vick after five games and quarterbacked Philadelphia to the NFC East title, throwing for 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions while leading the league with a 119.2 passer rating.
In his second stint with the Eagles in 2017, Foles replaced injured starter Carson Wentz in Week 14 and led Philadelphia to its first Super Bowl championship. Foles was named Super Bowl MVP after passing for 373 yards and three touchdowns and catching a 1-yard TD pass.
While the Bears know that their offense must improve for them to contend for a championship, it has performed well enough in spurts to help overcome fourth-quarter deficits of 17 and 16 points this season.
"It takes time, but the ultimate thing is we're finding ways to win," Foles said. "Two of the games we won—one I didn't play in, but one I did—we had like a 99-point-something chance of losing that game at one point in the fourth quarter. That doesn't happen where you come back from that ever, [but we did it] twice."
After last Sunday's 23-16 win over the Panthers, Foles told reporters that he'd rather win ugly than lose pretty—a mantra he mentioned again Thursday.
"Obviously, we want to get a better rhythm and do things better, but the ultimate thing in this league is you want to find out how to win games as a team," Foles said. "We're continuing to work towards those goals of getting better on the offensive side of the ball as well as the defensive side of the ball and special teams. We're never stopping. But this is just a process. This is a part of the game, I think, that goes back to not losing belief that you will get better if you do the little things right daily."
“I knew when I made the decision, it wasn’t going to be like a magic wand where [Foles] just all of a sudden comes in and lights it up or does this or does that. That wasn’t going to happen. It’s going to take a little bit of time.” Bears coach Matt Nagy
The offense showed signs of improvement against the Panthers, scoring on three of four first-half possessions and converting a season-high 50 percent of their third-down opportunities (7 of 14). But the unit continues to struggle running the ball and producing chunk plays.
"I think we've made incremental changes and it's continued to improve a little bit every week," Foles said. "I'd like to see a bigger progression this week. But you never know. The ultimate goal in this game is to win the game. It's not to put up a thousand fantasy points and do that; it's like, whatever it takes to win a game, that's what you want to do."
Asked what aspect of the offense he'd most like to see improve beginning Monday night against the Rams, Foles said: "Stepping in the huddle and the rhythm and the tempo and getting up to the ball and the flow of the game, I think that would be the biggest thing … to where we just feel solid, where every play we're dangerous and we're good, and we're not staying behind the chains, and we're executing and doing those little things."
Foles believes that the continued improvement results from players and coaches channeling their passion, energy and belief into an attention to detail throughout the week leading up to the game. It starts with discussions about the game plan that will be implemented in practice.
"Those conversations early in the week that will help us as an offense, I mean, they're detailed, they're real and then we start implementing them," Foles said. "There's no magic potion to this. It's just continue to have these conversations, implementing little changes that will help us and then ultimately going out there and executing."