Mitchell Trubisky forces the issue and moves one step closer to his first NFL snap

Mitchell Trubisky forces the issue and moves one step closer to his first NFL snap

Mitchell Trubisky is now one play away from taking his first NFL regular season snap. 

The Bears didn’t have to name Trubisky their backup quarterback, not with a veteran in Mark Sanchez still on the roster. But Trubisky, through an outstanding preseason and quicker-than-anticipated growth, forced the Bears to move him up one spot on the depth chart. If something were to happen to Mike Glennon, the Bears feel Trubisky would give them the best chance to still win that game. 

“He earned it,” coach John Fox said. “It’s not something we handed him for any particular reason other than he earned it.”

This puts the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft closer to seeing the field, but he’s not there yet. The Bears remain confident in Glennon, pointing to how well he played in the third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans (headlined by that 96-yard touchdown drive), which came after a normal week of game planning. 

“He’s a pro,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He knows what to do, he does it, he played well. That’s how we kinda anticipated him playing. That’s how he practiced. When you study and learn and do all those things, he knew what the defense was going to do and made good decisions.”

That’s what the Bears expect to see from Glennon on Sunday against an Atlanta Falcons defense that returns nine starters from, what it’s worth, a group that ranked 26th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA last year. 

“We like Mike Glennon,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “With preparation for the Titans game, he played very well. Now we’re prepping for Atlanta and Mike’s one of those guys, we talk about waiting before the snap, and he done that. He’s a very smart, intelligent player. There’s a lot that went into that evaluation. He has a lot of experience that we’re leaning on. He was voted a captain for a reason by that locker room. We’re ready to watch it unfold.”

Still, the focus on Wednesday at Halas Hall remained on Trubisky and how close the quarterback of the future was to turning that future into the present. That focus likely won’t shift off Trubisky unless Glennon exceeds expectations and the Bears play well through a difficult September. 

But Trubisky already has exceeded expectations. If he stays on that same upward trajectory, there won't be anything keeping him not only from getting in a game, but continuing to challenge Glennon to be the Bears' QB1. 

“There’s a plan in place for his development, which is being executed,” Pace said. “And I think Fox and Dowell and (QB coach Dave Ragone) have done an unbelievable job with it. I’m just proud of where Mitch is at right now and just him continuing that progress.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Cam Meredith return to the Bears?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Cam Meredith return to the Bears?

Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score), Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel. Quenton Nelson works out at Notre Dame’s pro day. If he’s still on the board at 8, should the Bears take him? Plus the panel talks about the Cubs outfield heading into 2018 and if it’s time to shut down both Jonathan Toews and Lauri Markkanen.

Could Quenton Nelson increase his value by playing tackle?

USA Today

Could Quenton Nelson increase his value by playing tackle?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Quenton Nelson hasn’t met with the Bears yet during this pre-draft process, and doesn’t have a local visit scheduled with them. But maybe that’s not too surprising.

Harry Hiestand has better intel on him than anyone else after coaching him for the past four years at Notre Dame, after all. 

“Coach Hiestand, he’s known me since I was an immature freshman that wasn’t good at football, until now being a lot more mature and responsible and doing the right thing and a good football player,” Nelson said. “He knows everything about me.”

Could part of that intel provided by Hiestand be that Nelson has the ability to eventually play tackle?

Nelson might be the closest to a “sure thing” prospect in this year’s draft, with his reams of dominant film and off-the-charts work ethic projecting him as an All-Pro for years to come. But that he plays guard is a stumbling block, given interior positions generally don’t hold as much value as tackles in the NFL.

So here’s a potential scenario for the Bears: They draft Nelson at No. 8 — which is still "high" for a guard — and plug him at left guard in 2018. They then, under the careful watch of Hiestand, slide him to tackle in 2019. 

“I’m pretty convinced that Q could do whatever he sets his mind to,” Mike McGlinchey, a first-round tackle in his own right who's Nelson’s ex-Irish teammate and workout buddy, said. “If that’s what teams want him to play, I’m sure he’ll take that head on and perform to the best of his ability.” 

Nelson, to his credit, is confident he could make the switch to tackle (he was recruited by Hiestand as a tackle, and began his college career backing up Zack Martin at tackle). He said the only team that’s asked him about it so far is the Cincinnati Bengals, though it’s unlikely he’ll still be on the board when they pick at No. 21. 

But maybe the thought of guards being significantly less valuable than tackles is slowly becoming antiquated in today’s NFL. Four of the top 10 highest paid offensive linemen, by total contract value, are interior linemen. Three of the top 10 offensive linemen with the most guaranteed money are guards, led by Andrew Norwell, who inked a five-year, $66.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month with $30 million guaranteed at signing. Only one offensive lineman — Nate Solder, who just signed with the New York Giants — is guaranteed more money. 

Following the money, if teams are willing to splash down loads of cash for the best guards in the league, a team may be willing to spend a top-10 pick on a guard who could immediately be among the best at his position in the NFL. Or the calculation for whatever team drafts him may be this: Would you rather have him as a perennial All-Pro guard or "merely" a solid-to-good tackle? 

Regardless of where he ends up playing, though, Nelson is one of those supremely-talented players who takes the right approach to his craft — in other words, one of those guys you just want to get in your building. And while Nelson said he’d love to play for his hometown New York Giants — who could be interested in him with the No. 2 pick — he said getting to link back up with Hiestand would be an incredible opportunity, too. 

“That would be amazing to play for him,” Nelson said. “He’s the one that made me into the player I am today. I wouldn’t be here without him or be in any conversations in the draft without him, so it would mean a lot to play for him again.”