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.