Bears

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the quarterbacks

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the quarterbacks

With training camp starting in just over a week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears position units heading into Bourbonnais. Today’s group: The quarterbacks, which have more questions than answers right now. 

1. When will Mitch Trubisky start his first game?

This will be the central question surrounding the Bears until a date is set for the Quarterback Who Was Promised to start. Will it be this year’s season opener? Unlikely, given the constant reassurances that this is Mike Glennon’s year. Could it be sometime in the middle or end of the season? Probably, if Trubisky picks up Dowell Loggains’ offense quickly and the Bears’ offense is mired in mediocrity. Could it be in 2018? Likely, unless Glennon shows something he didn’t with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and earns a chance to stick around for the second year of his three-year contract. The Bears’ ideal scenario is to give Trubisky plenty of time to develop, so when he does become the team’s starting quarterback, he can immediately thrive. That’s why the Bears committed to at least one year and as many as three years of Glennon a month and a half before drafting their quarterback of the future. 

“I’ve made a lot of progress,” Trubisky said back in June. “I’d say I’m getting better every day. I’m getting a little bit more comfortable every day. I’m studying a lot. I’ve put in more work on this playbook than I’ve put into anything in my life. And yeah, it’s coming along great. I’m getting more and more comfortable. I’ve seen strides in different areas every day.”

2. Who’s the backup?

This is a separate question from the first one, even if the answer to it is Trubisky. There are a couple of mitigating factors here heading into training camp — first, the knee injury Mark Sanchez suffered during OTAs, and second, the fact Trubisky as of Monday afternoon still has yet to sign a contract. Sanchez is expected to be ready for the beginning of training camp, and there haven’t been any alarm bells going off about Trubisky yet with still over a week until the Bears’ first practice in Bourbonnais. But who the team’s backup will be on Sept. 10 is a fascinating question: If it’s Trubisky, does that mean the coaching staff feels he’s ready to start? Or if it’s Sanchez (or Connor Shaw, for that matter), does that mean Trubisky may not see game action until November or December at the earliest? 

“A lot has been made of our quarterback situation, whether it’s Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez or even Mitch Trubisky,” coach John Fox said. “The only guy there that was here a year ago was Connor Shaw. We need to get those guys caught up but we’ve got good competition between guys that are good teammates, good people and they are working very very hard.”

3. What do the Bears have in Mike Glennon?

Let’s put this another way: What if Glennon turns out to be a solid, productive quarterback? It's unlikely a guy who’s only thrown 11 passes since the end of the 2014 season and who wasn’t able to hang on to his job — twice — with bad Tampa Bay teams could be an upper-echelon quarterback, but what if he roughly mirrors Andy Dalton with a low interception total and high completion percentage on a six-win team? Does that earn Glennon another opportunity to start with the Bears, or do they still move on from him after the season to clear the path for Trubisky? This would be a good problem for the Bears to have, of course. On the flip side, how much rope does Glennon get if his numbers are similar to the ones he had in Tampa Bay (59.4 completion percentage, 30 TDs, 15 INTs in 630 passing attempts) and the Bears struggle early in the season? If Glennon gets benched, then we go right back to trying to answer both questions No. 1 and No. 2 here. But the way the Bears have presented their quarterbacks, the Glennon question needs to be figured out before we get any answers about Trubisky.

"I’m here, this is my year, and the meetings are geared around me,” Glennon said. “Am I going to help Mitch as much as I can? Definitely. I’m going to be a great teammate. But my job is to win football games for the Chicago Bears. And that’s where my head’s at.”

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: