Mike Glennon answers a question, but Cameron Meredith’s injury asks another one


Mike Glennon answers a question, but Cameron Meredith’s injury asks another one

NASHVILLE — Mitch Trubisky offered differing evaluations of his play and that of Mike Glennon after the Bears’ 19-7 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. 

“I gotta watch the film, but (I) would like it to go a little smoother,” Trubisky, who made a couple of mistakes but still had a quarterback rating of 115.4, said of his play. As for Glennon?

“I thought he balled out today, which is awesome to see,” Trubisky said. 

The Bears’ quarterback competition, as it pertains to Week 1, is over. Mike Glennon not only avoided a disastrous game — which could’ve thrown his status for Sept. 10 into question — but played well, completing 11 of 18 passes for 134 yards with a touchdown and a quarterback rating of 102.5. Glennon looked poised and confident while driving the Bears 96 yards for a touchdown on their first possession of the game, and didn’t make the kind of catastrophic mistakes that marred his prior to preseason contests. 

That doesn’t mean Trubisky can’t keep the heat on Glennon. Ideally for the Bears, he will, because Glennon played well after losing some first-team reps to Trubisky in practice last week and on Sunday. 

“These guys are all competitors and we try to build competition,” coach John Fox said. “You want guys to respond to that. … I think Mike did that.” 

If the Bears are thinking optimistically about their 2017 outlook — and what we’ve seen from Glennon so far — it’s that the 6-foot-7 quarterback needed two preseason games to shake off the rust that had built up in his final two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, during which he only threw 11 regular season passes. 

“I feel like I have plenty of reps in practice and you get good at that, but there’s nothing that you can replicate that is a real game situation,” Glennon said. “Would I liked to have played better early on? Of course. But I think that’s just part of it. I haven’t played in two years, so these reps are extremely valuable and I’m glad we took a step forward today.” 

The positivity about the Bears’ first team offense in the first half — all of which came under Glennon — was undercut by the grisly injury suffered by Cameron Meredith late in the first quarter. The Bears believe it’s an ACL injury, but haven’t conducted an MRI on their leading receiver from last year (66 catches, 888 yards). Either way, the discussion about Meredith was mostly conducted in the past tense about his 2017 season, dealing a brutal blow to the Berwyn native who appeared ready for an even more productive year. 

Losing Meredith creates an added challenge for Glennon that played out on Sunday. After Meredith’s injury, Glennon completed only three of eight attempts for 34 yards, and he failed to connect with an open Deonte Thompson near the goal line on a pass that could’ve resulted in a touchdown just before halftime. 

“Obviously Cam was a huge part of our offense,” Glennon said. “I’m pulling for him, but guys just have to step up. Unfortunately that’s just sometimes the reality of football, guys go down. I think what we kind of talked about is we have a deep group of receivers and a lot of guys that can play.

“A lot of guys, there’s an opportunity for someone in that room to really go grab that new open spot. It’s unfortunate but I think we have a deep group at receiver.”

Glennon showed a good connection with Kendall Wright early, finding the former Titans receiver for three third down conversions on that lengthy opening drive. The Bears need more of that, whether it’s from Kevin White (four targets, two receptions, 30 yards), Zach Miller (two targets, one catch, nine yards), Markus Wheaton (who hasn’t played in a preseason game yet and hasn’t practiced much due to an appendectomy and broken finger) or perhaps someone from outside the organization. 

Ideally, that reliable replacement for Glennon would be White, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft who’s shown modestly encouraging signs in the last few days. White had a strong practice on Wednesday — Glennon said he “had one of the best days I’ve seen him have,” — and caught a 19-yard pass over the middle on Sunday, for what it’s worth. 

But can White be the guy who Glennon, while under pressure, trusts to catch a pass even while blanketed in man coverage (as Meredith did for 28 yards on Sunday)? White said he’s not putting added pressure on himself to be that guy, but trusts he — or one of his teammates — can be. 

The Bears now need to see that optimism translate into production. 

“I always want to do my job and do it at a high level,” White said. “Us as receivers, everybody’s gotta step up when guys go down. We’ll do that, we’ll be all right.”

Bears' roster moves create a looming roster hurdle for Kevin White


Bears' roster moves create a looming roster hurdle for Kevin White

Questions have been hanging over Kevin White ever since GM Ryan Pace opted to invest the No. 7 pick of the 2015 draft on a wide receiver with one outstanding college season on his resume. Given Pace’s strike for a quarterback with a roughly similar body of work last draft, this may qualify as a Pace “strategy,” but that’s for another discussion closer to the draft.

But in the wake of signings at wide receiver by Pace and the Bears over the start-up days of free agency, a new and perhaps darker cloud is forming over White. This is beyond the obvious ones visited on the young man by his succession of three season-ending injuries, and by a nagging belief in some quarters that White is a bust irrespective of the injuries.

The point is not that White will never amount to anything in the NFL. Marc Colombo came back from a pair of horrendous leg injuries to have a career as a solid NFL tackle, albeit with the Dallas Cowboys, not the Bears.

The problem facing White now, assuming he comes back able to stay healthy in a competition with Cameron Meredith for the spot opposite Allen Robinson, is whether there is reasonably going to be a roster spot the Bears can use for him.

This would be on top of whether Pace and the organization could bring themselves to cut ties with a quality individual in a move that would amount to admitting a failure in what was supposed to be a defining initial top-10 pick by a regime committed to building through the draft.

White is still under his rookie contract with its $2.7 million guaranteed for this season, so there is little reason to simply give up on him, even assuming an offset if White then signs on somewhere else.

But Robinson and slot receiver Taylor Gabriel account for two of the starting three wideout spots. For the other wide receiver job, Meredith, also coming off season-ending knee surgery, rates an early edge on White based on Meredith’s 66-catch 2016 season.

If White does not start, he then becomes a backup, and backups are expected to contribute on special teams. It’s what has kept Josh Bellamy in the NFL, and what new Bears tight end Trey Burton points to as his ticket to making it through his first years with Philadelphia.

White doesn’t cover kicks, doesn’t return them, doesn’t block them. The Bears have typically expected special-teams participation from their No. 4-5 receivers, although the fact that Meredith and Robinson are coming off knee injuries, and chances that the Bears will keep six wide receivers in the West Coast offense of Matt Nagy, all could tilt a decision in favor of White simply as insurance/depth, even with his own injury history.

It is difficult not to have a spot of rooting-interest in White, a young guy trying so hard to get a career dream off the ground. It’s just also difficult to see a clear fit in the new Bears world that began forming in earnest in the past several days.

Do you realize just how many things have to break right for a Bears 2018 rebound?


Do you realize just how many things have to break right for a Bears 2018 rebound?

Not all that long ago, back in the seemingly promising Dave Wannstedt days, something of an annual narrative began around the Bears. All too frequently since then it has been the refrain of more offseasons than not, including last year’s. And if there is a cause for very, very sobering realism in the wake of the heady wave of free-agency signings in the first days of the new league year, it lies in what has so often transpired to put the lie to that optimism.

The mantra then, and now, has been various iterations of, “If these three (or four, or six, or 12) things work out, the Bears are gonna be good this year.” Because the reality is that all those what-ifs seldom, if ever, all come to pass, whether because of injury, mis-evaluated abilities or whatever.

Look no further than this time last offseason, just considering the offense:

If Kevin White can come back from (another) injury, if Markus Wheaton flashes his Pittsburgh speed, if Dion Sims takes that next step from a promising Miami stint, if Kyle Long is back from his lower-body issues, if Cameron Meredith comes close to those 66 catches again, if Mike Glennon has the upside that led the GM to guarantee him $18.5 million, and hey, Victor Cruz, too, if… and so on.

And exactly zero of those “if’s” came to pass, with the result that John Fox and Dowell Loggains became idiots.

The point is not to a picker of nit or sayer of nay. But the fact is that a lot of the offseason moves and player development ALL need to come down in the plus-column for the Bears to be even as good as they were back in, say, 2015, when the offense had Martellus Bennett at tight end, Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver, Eddie Royal coming in at slot receiver (with 37 catches in an injury-shortened season), Kyle Long at his Pro-Bowl best, and Jay Cutler about to have the best full season of his career. And a new (proven) head coach and defensive coordinator, and an offensive coordinator with head-coaching talent.

All those things “worked” for a team that would wobble to a 6-10 year.

Now consider 2018:

The current top two wide receivers are both – both – coming off season-ending ACL injuries;

The incoming slot receiver has never had a season as reception-productive as the one (Kendall Wright) he is replacing (59) or as many as Royal had in just nine 2015 games (37);

The new tight end has never been a starter and has fewer career catches (63) than Bennett averaged (69) in three supremely disappointing Bears seasons;

The best offensive lineman (Long) is coming off missing essentially half of each of the past two seasons with injuries, and the co-best (Sitton) is gone from an offensive line that was middle of the pack last year and has high hopes for two linemen (Hroniss Grasu, Eric Kush) who’ve been largely backups, and a third (Jordan Morgan) who missed his rookie season with an injury;

And the quarterback (Trubisky) upon whom the franchise rests, who needs to overcome any so-called sophomore jinx and improve from a rookie level (77.8 passer rating) that was barely better than Cutler’s worst NFL season (76.8).

All of which sounds negative, but it really isn’t, just a perspective. Offseasons are about hope, but realism isn’t all bad, either.