How much longer can the Bears keep betting on Mike Glennon?

How much longer can the Bears keep betting on Mike Glennon?

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Back in late April, when the Bears executed their stealthy plan to draft Mitchell Trubisky, general manager Ryan Pace quickly tamped down speculation that the franchise’s highest draft pick since 1951 would start over the guy who signed a $45 million contract a month prior. 

“We’ll focus on Mitch’s development and Mike Glennon winning games for the Chicago Bears,” Pace said. 

Glennon hasn’t won games for the Bears. Well, the Bears won on Sunday against Pittsburgh, but that was with Glennon barely throwing for 100 yards and Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen gouging an oddly-schemed Steelers defense. But Glennon’s debacle Thursday against the franchise’s No. 1 rival, in front of a primetime national audience, was a clear sign that the Bears’ plan isn't playing out the way they had hoped back in the spring. 

"The No. 1 thing we have to fix is turnovers, because I’m not giving our team a chance when you turn the ball over like that," Glennon said.

Glennon held on to the ball too long on the Bears' first offensive snap of what wound up being a 35-14 loss, failing to check down to an open Zach Miller and getting slammed by Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews for a sack/strip the Packers recovered at the Bears’ three-yard line. That spotted Aaron Rodgers a 14-0 lead six minutes into the game, an advantage that helped mask all the significant injuries the Packers dealt with this week (most notably both starting tackles and, by the end of the first half, their top two running backs).  

“(I) just have to get the ball out of my hands quicker,” Glennonsaid. “Didn’t quite like what I saw but I have to move on in the progression.”

The Bears looked able to respond, though, after spotting the Packers a two-touchdown lead. Glennon completed passes to Kendall Wright and Josh Bellamy for 30 yards, and an unnecessary roughness penalty tacked on an extra 15 to Bellamy’s catch to bring the offense to the Green Bay 25-yard line. 

After Adam Shaheen couldn’t hold a block on Ahmad Brooks, who dropped Jordan Howard for a four-yard loss, disaster stuck again: Glennon and center Cody Whitehair couldn’t get on the same page, and as Glennon took a step toward the line of scrimmage, Whitehair snapped the ball. It comically careened off Glennon’s knee past the line of scrimmage and into the waiting arms of Packers linebacker Blake Martinez. 

“Miscommunication,” Glennon said. “Falls on both of us. Gotta do a better job communicating in the huddle to make sure the cadence is correct.”

The Bears’ defense did its part after that fumble, forcing three consecutive Green Bay punts sandwiched around a lighting delay between the first and second quarters. Maybe the Bears would have some life after going back to the locker room for an unexpected break. But Glennon threw his first of two interceptions at the 5:41 mark of the second quarter when he misfired toward Markus Wheaton into the waiting hands of Packers safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. 

“I went through the progression a little too quick, didn’t let it develop quite enough and it sounds a little crazy getting the ball out of your hands too quick but that’s basically what I did,” Glennon said. “I didn’t give the receiver time to run his full route and that caused it.” 

Consider what Wheaton, who only returned to full practice last week, said when asked if there was miscommunication between the receivers and Glennon, and if developing better communication remains an ongoing process:

“Speaking for myself, I haven’t had a catch,” Wheaton said. “So we obviously have got some stuff to work on.” 

By the time Glennon threw his fourth interception, the game was a laughingstock. Ryan Switzer, the Cowboys receiver who was Trubisky’s roommate at North Carolina, posted a less-than-flattering viral meme on Twitter. Andy Phillips, the undrafted kicker who the Bears cut back in August, piled on, too. This loss, while not as egregious a the scoreline, had the same air of embarrassment as Marc Trestman’s final trip to Lambeau Field (a 55-14 defeat in 2014).

“I think it starts at the top,” coach John Fox said. “We got out-coached, out-played in every area. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Could that involve dumping Glennon and starting Trubisky Oct. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings?

“We need to make a lot of changes,” Fox said. “We’ll evaluate everything and we got a lot of work to do here before we line up against Minnesota on Monday night. And we’re going to look at everything.”

Fox is now 10-25 as Bears coach, and is 5-19 since beating the Packers on Thanksgiving in 2015. More of the same from this 2017 team will not only cost the Bears another season, but it could cost Fox his job — every Bears coach, save Trestman, in the last 40 years has reached the playoffs at least once by their third season in charge. 

The most obvious area for Fox to make a change in this next week and a half is at quarterback. Will that solve all the issues plaguing this team? No. But if a big point in Glennon’s favor was his ability to win before the snap, he hasn’t done that — and he hasn’t won after the snap, either. And in turn, he hasn't won many games.

From a bigger sense, can Fox really afford to bet his coaching future on Glennon? After a night like Thursday, and a month like September, it looks like it could be a bigger risk than playing the kid. 

After releasing him, Bears reportedly bringing back Marcus Cooper


After releasing him, Bears reportedly bringing back Marcus Cooper

Marcus Cooper's offseason has resembled a will they, won't they relationship.

The corner back signed a three-year deal with the Bears last offseason, but struggled last year and was released by the Bears after one year of that deal. However, Adam Caplan is reporting that Cooper could be back in a Bears uniform this season.

Cooper was officially released by the Bears on March 14 and visited the Arizona Cardinals earlier on Friday. Cooper started for the Cardinals in 2016.

Cooper began the year as a starter for the Bears, but finished with just four starts. He finished 2017 with 18 tackles and three passes deflected in 15 games.

His play with the Bears didn't exactly make him Mr. Popular with fans, as can be observed by looking at the savage replies to Caplan's report.

Cooper's original contract for the Bears with valued at $16 million over three years so the reported $2.5 million number is a significant pay cut and could mean he is being brought back for depth as opposed to last year when he was expected to start.

Plenty of possibilities loom ahead of Bears' draft pick

Plenty of possibilities loom ahead of Bears' draft pick

As the Bears begin to fill out their draft board in earnest, they’ll do so by evaluating the players they like and the players they think will be available when they pick eighth in April. And what players check both those boxes and go into their draft “clouds,” as Ryan Pace calls them, will depend largely on how many quarterbacks are taken ahead of the Bears’ pick. 

With about a month until the draft, it seems clear two teams will take a quarterback with a top-seven pick: the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. The Browns own the Nos. 1 and 4 picks; the Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3, and teams rarely invest that kind of draft capital to not draft a quarterback. 

That leaves a few hinge points in how many quarterbacks are picked by the time the Bears are on the clock:

New York Giants (No. 2 overall)

The Giants still have an aging Eli Manning but could move to use the second pick to draft his long-term replacement. Or, alternatively, they could use this deep class of top-end quarterbacks as an avenue to trade down, add some picks and build out a young core that way. Either of these scenarios would be good news for the Bears, as we’ve seen Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson connected to the Giants at No. 2 as well, if they were to stay there. The Buffalo Bills could be motivated to trade up to No. 2 to make sure they get the guy they want with quarterbacks almost assuredly going off the board at Nos. 1 and 3. 

Cleveland Browns (No. 4 overall)

If the Browns get their quarterback with the first pick — Sam Darnold? — they could be sitting in an ideal spot at No. 4. If the Giants draft a quarterback, Cleveland could play hardball and tell teams they’re fine keeping the fourth pick and drafting Barkley with it. That could create a bidding war between the Buffalo Bills (No. 12) and Denver Broncos (No. 5) to trade up and draft the last of the four clear-cut top quarterbacks in this class. In this scenario, Cleveland adds a bunch of picks to an already-sizable stash and accelerates their growth through the draft. 

If the Giants were to trade out of the No. 2 pick, let’s say to the Bills, it may lessen Cleveland’s desire to trade down from No. 4 unless a team in need of a quarterback like the Arizona Cardinals (No. 15) or Miami Dolphins (No. 11) starts lurking around. But as we saw last year with the Bears trading up one spot to draft Mitch Trubisky, teams don’t want to leave things to chance if they have conviction on the quarterback they want. So that brings us to the…

Denver Broncos (No. 5 overall)

The Broncos signed Case Keenum to a two-year deal and still have 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch on their roster, though he hasn’t shown much in only five games as a pro. Does Denver absolutely, positively have to draft a quarterback? No. They’re probably in the same boat as the Giants in that regard. But what if they really like Josh Allen and/or Baker Mayfield, both of whom their coaching staff worked with at the Senior Bowl, and one of them is still on the board when the Browns’ pick comes up at No. 4? Or what if Josh Rosen has been their guy all along? 

In that case, John Elway may make an aggressive move to guarantee he gets the quarterback he wants, and not risk losing that guy if a team were to cut the line by trading with the Browns. 

The other scenario is less positive for the Bears: Maybe the Broncos only have one or two quarterbacks out of this group they want, and they either can’t find a trade partner to move out of No. 5 or don’t want to. If three quarterbacks are drafted in the first seven picks, the Bears may not have the opportunity to draft one of Nelson, Chubb or Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, for example, is a super-talented prospect — but we seem to be moving toward a consensus that Nelson, Fitzpatrick, Chubb and Barkley are the four best non-quarterback prospects in this draft. And in all likelihood, the Bears will only be able to draft one of them four quarterbacks are taken before they pick. 

The wild card here is Nelson, given his position (guard) is rarely seen as worthy of being a top-10 pick. But those who saw him up close in college believe he’s a future perennial Pro Bowler, possibly beginning as soon as his rookie year. The Bears’ fit is obvious, with Harry Hiestand coming to coach the offensive line from Notre Dame and the team — as of right now — still having a fairly clear need for another interior offensive lineman. Perhaps Nelson falls to the Bears even if there are only three quarterbacks off the board before they pick, but having four go off the board would make things a little less stressful at Halas Hall in late April. 

Indianapolis Colts (No. 6 overall) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 7 overall)

The Colts already traded down once, and likely did so with the confidence that Chubb would still be on the board at No. 6 to help their limp pass rush. Fitzpatrick seems to be a good fit with Tampa Bay, though a player of his caliber would be a good fit anywhere. Either of these teams still could be persuaded to trade down, especially if the Giants and/or Broncos pass on a quarterback.

Chicago Bears (No. 8 overall)

If four quarterbacks are off the board by the time the Bears pick, that’s ideal for Pace. If three are, he still could get someone from his No. 8 pick “cloud” and be content staying there. If only two are — and this doesn’t appear to be a likely scenario — that means the Bills haven’t found a trade partner and may want to leapfrog the Dolphins at No. 11 to get their guy. More likely, if the Bears are able to trade down from No. 8, it would be because a team like Arizona wants to make sure the quarterback they want isn’t snagged by an opportunistic team ahead of them. 

But Pace's draft history has seen him trade up far more frequently than trade down. If someone who's in his draft cloud is available when the Bears go on the clock, chances are he'll pick that guy and not trade down. 

Plenty can and will change between now and when the draft begins on April 26. But for right now, the landscape ahead of the Bears suggests only positive things setting up for their first-round pick.