Bears

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: Should the Bears let Trubisky throw more?

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AP

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Trubisky throw more?

Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky air it out more often?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh, Adam Jahns and Mark Carman join David Kaplan to discuss the Bears' second straight win, a great defensive performance and minimal work by Trubisky.

Listen to the latest episode below:

Bears handling of Mitch Trubisky, run-pass balance fits a pattern as Leonard Floyd heats up

Bears handling of Mitch Trubisky, run-pass balance fits a pattern as Leonard Floyd heats up

Shaking some last crumbs out of the notebook after the Bears reached 3-4 with their 17-3 win over the Carolina Panthers…

The thought that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains somehow needs to loosen the leather restraints he’s put on quarterback Mitch Trubisky may be the head-scratcher of the weekend; more than just this weekend, really.

Set aside the mistaken notion that the only goal of the 2017 season is Trubisky’s development. First of all, that’s an objective, not a goal (winning is a “goal”); and somewhere in all this, the developments of Leonard Floyd, Eddie Jackson and Cody Whitehair might be at least a little important, but that’s digressing...

Realize that Loggains has been the boots-on-the-ground prime mover behind the plan and program that has had Trubisky on a developmental fast track practically since the quarterback was drafted. And Loggains is a self-professed “’I like to throw it’ guy” even if John Fox isn’t, although the 2016 season is worth a look regarding the latter’s feelings about throwing. More on that in a minute.

More to the play-calling specifically: Carolina was No. 2 in the NFL in sacks and a top-10 pass defense. Baltimore is 12th against the pass and tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (10). Loggains and the offense overwhelmingly ran the football against both of those defenses.

Against Minnesota, which is a more workable 17th in passing yardage allowed, the Bears ran 56 plays. Of those, 27 were pass plays, not counting Trubisky running three times.

Fold in this perspective: Loggains was part of the Adam Gase staff in 2015 when the Bears were a 54:46 pass:run ratio offense. Last year, with the quarterback mayhem of Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Jay Cutler-Matt Barkley, Loggains as OC threw the ball 61 percent of the time. Anyone who cared to look really closely at the “why” there would have seen that Loggains didn’t have an in-shape Jordan Howard early, by Howard’s own assessment, or a fully healthy Jeremy Langford late.

Meaning: Loggains has worked with what he had, both last year and now this year, when he doesn’t have Alshon Jeffery and Cameron Meredith, or Markus Wheaton (inactive for four of the seven games) for that matter, for Trubisky (or Mike Glennon) to catch passes. Fox wants an offense that, of its top five priorities, not turning the football is Nos. 1-4, and that’s what Loggains and Trubisky have given him.

The “culture” that’s increasingly evident in and around Halas Hall

Not every fun or revealing locker room quip should be reported. So when Leonard Floyd was bantering not too long ago with Akiem Hicks, the outside linebacker issued a declaration that I thought oughta stay in its corner of the locker room, at least until the young man played up to the bar he was setting for himself.

“I’m hot,” Floyd had informed Hicks, who gave every appearance of dismissing the boast as the overly self-hyping rant of a second-year NFL pup, more intent on finding a missing sock than indulging the youngster. “I…am…hot,” Floyd repeated to ensure that Hicks was on notice.

The good-natured by-play was more than just a little smack.

Floyd and Hicks have a friendly but definitely intense sack competition, Floyd has had four sacks over the last four games, to which Hicks has to up his game with four sacks over the last three. But for Floyd, his year heated up with his first 2017 sack, at Green Bay.

“It was that sack – when I sacked Aaron Rodgers – I felt ‘hot,’” Floyd said on Sunday after the Carolina win, in which Floyd was credited with four tackles, one for loss, and two quarterback hits. Floyd did sack Rodgers last season at Green Bay, forcing a fumble that Floyd recovered in the end zone. But “I didn’t have any sacks going into Green Bay [this year],” Floyd said, “so when I sack Aaron Rodgers, I know I can sack anybody."

Not that Floyd is superstitious or anything, but “I’m still wearing the same cleats I wore in that Green Bay game,” Floyd added, rummaging through his bag and extracting the well-worn, good-luck footwear.

Winning makes everything a little more relaxed, although conversely, actually “playing” football not uncommonly leads to winning as well. Whichever is cause and which is effect, something is noticeably different inside a team that not too long ago too many had been given up for NFL dead.