As the preseason ground to a close, the Bears faced an unexpected but welcome decision on a starting quarterback. Even with the requisite rookie hiccups, Mitch Trubisky had played well enough that voices in the discussion felt that he should be the opening-day starter.
Mike Glennon’s performance in Game 3 (11-for-18, 134 yards, TD, zero INT, 102.5 rating) against the Tennessee Titans, in which he’d operated with a game plan, tipped the decision to Glennon and to Trubisky going on hold to learn more.
The decision unraveled over the first four weeks of the season with Glennon’s play forcing a reversal of plan. It was accompanied by Trubisky running scout team plays the way Aaron Rodgers once did while Brett Favre’s backup and regularly torched his own No. 1 defense. One arrow pointing down, the other pointing up forces a change.
There always WAS a Bears quarterback competition, whether or not anyone wanted to call it that.
Regrettably, from the outside, it too often seemed that The Moment was too big for Glennon. Not sure that the same could be said about Trubisky, who wasn’t brash or cocky but was politely eager ever since the beginning of training camp to compete for a job that might have been handed to Glennon initially, but never caused The Kid to take his foot off his own gas pedal.
“I’m going to come out here and compete,” he said even while adhering to the organization’s stated plan of Glennon installed as the starter.
Coaches are fond of — and correct in — saying that players, not coaches, make decisions for them. So it became the case of Glennon being dropped from the starting lineup and Trubisky replacing him, now on track to occur Monday night Oct. 9 when the Bears’ schedule brings the Minnesota Vikings to Soldier Field.
Glennon really left coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains what they deemed to be no choice but to make a quarterback change. Five interceptions over the past three games and multiple lost fumbles — if a tackle had given up 5 sacks in three games, or a running back had fumbled repeatedly, neither would have been in the lineup, if even on the roster.
The Bears opted against a partial role for Trubisky, inserting him for a pre-determined series or two. They also appear to be leaving Mark Sanchez in a basically advisory role.
The offense will change under Trubisky. Mobile pockets now become an option that was unavailable with the slow-footed Glennon. Trubisky’s mobility within the pocket project to give him an escapability element absent with Glennon.
But expectations will and should be obviously tempered. Colleague JJ Stankevitz chronicled the varying levels of success for rookie quarterbacks, and changing the quarterback does not change the wide receiver corps, which deserves some measure of blame for Glennon’s travails.
A reality that the Trubisky-for-Glennon decision points to, however, is that Glennon’s decision-making was far below the hoped-for standard the Bears thought they were getting. Glennon was throwing too often and too poorly to covered receivers while others were the correct options.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered Glennon very substantial money to remain as Jameis Winston’s backup. Glennon signed for a chance to start, and now leaves the Bears possibly with a backup at a pay level similar to what the Bucs offered. That’s hardly a nice consolation prize for GM Ryan Pace, but…. At this point the Bears have a tall backup for 2018, assuming Trubisky plays as planned.
In any case, the supposedly quarterback-lite draft of 2017 saw three quarterbacks taken in the first round, within the first 12 picks in fact, and all by teams that traded up to grab those guys — Trubisky at No. 3, Pat Mahomes to Kansas City at No. 10, Deshaun Watson at No. 12. Less than halfway through their rookie seasons, two of those three now have the keys to their franchises.