Bears

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. 

Bears grades: The return of D's and F's, except for the linebackers

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USA Today

Bears grades: The return of D's and F's, except for the linebackers

QUARTERBACKS: D

Mitchell Trubisky threw three interceptions, with two of them particularly deflating: His first pick came on the second play of the third quarter when he overthrew Kendall Wright while rolling to his left; his second came in the end zone on third down. The last one came late in the fourth quarter when he and tight end Daniel Brown weren’t on the same page. Those mistakes were disappointing for a guy who hadn’t thrown an interception since Week 12, and now has as many interceptions as touchdowns (seven). But Trubisky did make a number of good throws, like when he stared down a blitz and found Markus Wheaton for a 22-yard gain. He also appeared to be the reason why the Lions to jump offsides twice, a good sign for his development with his cadence. But while he threw for over 300 yards for the first time in his career, the turnovers are the most important thing here. 

RUNNING BACKS: D

While some of the Bears’ running issues on Saturday were the product of some shaky run blocking from an offensive line that lost its two starting guards (Tom Compton and Josh Sitton) to injury, Jordan Howard wasn’t able to do much, either. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t break a tackle, and Howard finished with only 37 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Tarik Cohen didn’t get on the field much, playing only 25 of the Bears’ 63 offensive snaps and gaining one yard on two rushing attempts. The good news, perhaps, for this group: Howard caught all four targets he received for 26 yards, and he, Cohen and Benny Cunningham combined for 12 catches on 15 targets for 75 yards with the Bears’ only touchdown (which went to Cunningham). 

WIDE RECEIVERS: D

The stats for this group are inflated by the Bears’ having to try to pass their way back into the game in the second half, but while Kendall Wright (seven catches, 81 yards), Josh Bellamy (five catches, 70 yards) and Markus Wheaton (two catches, 42 yards) seemed to be productive, that trio only caught 14 of their 24 targets. Trubisky’s accuracy issues had something to do with that, but there were some poor plays in there too, like when Wright couldn’t hang on to a pass on the Bears’ first drive that was dislodged by safety Quandre Diggs. Also concerning here: Dontrelle Inman was invisible for the second straight week, only catching one of two targets for five yards six days after Trubisky didn’t look his way at all in the Bears’ blowout win over Cincinnati. Bellamy was also whistled for two penalties. 

TIGHT ENDS: D

Not having Adam Shaheen (chest) on Saturday was a blow to this group, especially after it functioned so well with the rookie in there last weekend in Cincinnati. Dion Sims caught his only target for nine yards, while Daniel Brown caught three of four targets for 32 yards — but that one target he didn’t catch was intercepted. That the Bears struggled to run the ball falls some on the tight ends, too: Only three of the nine plays with Sims and Brown on the field at the same time were runs, and those went for a meager nine yards. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: D

Four penalties were assessed to the Bears’ offensive line: Holding and a false start for Charles Leno, holding for Hroniss Grasu and illegal hands to the face for Cody Whitehair. Losing Sitton and Compton stretched this group to its max, and the Teryl Austin’s Lions defense had some success run blitzing the Bears. But it’s hard to find positives when the production from the Bears’ running game wasn’t there, especially a week after this offensive line dominated the Bengals’ front seven. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-

Akiem Hicks hit home on a sack for the first time since Week 8 and added a tackle for a loss, but he whiffed dropping Matt Stafford on that 58-yard heave to Marvin Jones in the second quarter. The Lions averaged 4.6 yards per carry, over a yard higher than their season average (3.4, 31st in the NFL). Eddie Goldman returned to the defense and only got on the stat sheet because of a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty he committed on the first play of the game. 

LINEBACKERS: A-

Sam Acho (one sack, one TFL, one hurry and a forced fumble) and Lamarr Houston (two sacks, two hurries, two tackles for a loss) each had huge games, while Nick Kwiatkoski had a solid game (eight tackles) as well. Pernell McPhee, prior to suffering a shoulder injury, had a few decent pressures and sniffed out a screen to Ameer Abdullah for a loss of six (he was injured on that play). This unit was not the problem with the Bears on Saturday, to say the least. 

DEFENISVE BACKS: D-

Eddie Jackson did some good things in the open field, but allowing Jones to catch that 58-yard jump ball in the second quarter — which was on a third-and-18 play and set up Detroit’s first touchdown of the game — was rough. Kyle Fuller struggled, too, allowing catches all five times Stafford threw his way for 61 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Fuller was flagged once, while Prince Amukamara had two penalties assessed on him. Stafford has been kryptonite for this group, with passer ratings of 120.2 and 115.3 and no interceptions against the Bears in 2017. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-

There were two bad penalties assessed to the Bears on special teams on Saturday: First, DeAndre Houston-Carson was flagged for holding on what was otherwise a 90-yard kickoff return by Cohen. And John Timu was whistled for holding on a shanked punt that only went 24 yards, leading to the Bears beginning a third quarter possession at their own 36 instead of own 46. 

COACHING: F

Another week of undisciplined play (13 penalties) doesn’t reflect well on the coaching staff. John Fox’s decision to punt on fourth-and-one from the Bears’ own 45-yard line in first half was head-scratching for a team without anything to lose. Not kicking an onside kick down 10 with about two and a half minutes left was odd, but made more confusing by Mike Nugent kicking a pooch kick instead of going deep. This postgame quote from Wright about why the Bears played so poorly six days after playing so well wasn’t necessarily meant as a criticism of the coaching staff, but can be read as sort of an inadvertent one:

“I have no idea,” Wright said. “I have no idea. That’s a question I can’t even answer. I would say we came out flat, but I don’t really think so. I think everybody was ready to play and everybody had the energy to play. It’s not anything I can put on that.”

Under Center Podcast: What’s the game plan!?! Bears lose 10th game to Lions

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: What’s the game plan!?! Bears lose 10th game to Lions

Laurence Holmes, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down the Bears 20-10 loss to the Lions on Saturday.

Why didn’t the game plan include more runs for Jordan Howard? How did Mitchell Trubisky play so poorly despite a career-high in pass yards? And where is the leadership on this team? Plus – could the Bears actually lose to the Browns and hit rock bottom?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: