Bears

With Mitchell Trubisky waiting, Bears insist it's not all Mike Glennon's fault

With Mitchell Trubisky waiting, Bears insist it's not all Mike Glennon's fault

TAMPA — The Bears aren’t planning on replacing Mike Glennon with Mitchell Trubisky, at least not in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s mistake-laden 29-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Glennon threw two interceptions — including a pick-six — and lost a fumble as the Bears’ offense imploded a week after showing some promise against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.

“I don’t think anybody, without even seeing the tape yet, (could say) that you can pin that on the quarterback,” coach John Fox said. “Everybody had their hand in that.”

Fox flatly said “no” when asked if he’s considering starting Trubisky next weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Fox’s message of everyone, not just Glennon, making mistakes was echoed by the quarterback’s teammates in the visiting locker room after the game.

“We have confidence in Mike,” wide receiver Kendall Wright said. “Y’all might not have confidence in Mike. We have confidence in Mike. If you — most of y’all don’t really do it — but if you go watch the game and break down the film instead of just going off what you see, you’ll see. And you’ll see why we’re confident in him. He’s our quarterback and we’re behind him. So whatever we gotta do to keep him up and be in the right spots for him, that’s what we gotta do.”

Said tight end Dion Sims, who was the intended target of Glennon’s first interception: “Mike’s doing a great job, man. Everything’s not going to be perfect. We’ll just lean on him and correct the mistakes and be ready for Pittsburgh next week.”

And offensive lineman Cody Whitehair: “We gotta protect him better and give him a little more time.”

The mistakes made by Bears players not named Mike Glennon were numerous and costly. Tarik Cohen’s attempt to field a bouncing punt in traffic led to a turnover and Tampa Bay’s first touchdown — “That was a dumb mistake,” Cohen said — and the Bears were whistled for defensive holding on three third downs, aiding a pair of Buccaneers scoring drives. The Bears’ offense, defense and special teams all failed to cover each other’s mistakes.

The Bears also couldn’t run the ball. Jordan Howard gained seven yards on nine carries, and Cohen only picked up 13 yards on seven rushing attempts.

“It’s on all 11 guys on offense,” Whitehair said. “Obviously we gotta protect better, we gotta block better for the run game so we can get that started too and not have to focus on the pass so much.”

So yes, this was a total team effort to lose in such comprehensive fashion. But Glennon is the most important part of that team effort with the ball in his hands on every offensive play.

Glennon said the first interception — that short throw to Sims — was a quick gain concept that Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander jumped (Sims was blanketed by defenders on the play). On his second interception, Glennon said he should’ve moved on in his progressions and not thrown toward Josh Bellamy. And the fumble, Glennon said he’ll look on film to see if he should’ve moved in the pocket differently or got the ball out quicker.

“Three of those fall on me and ultimately I have to do a better job taking care of the football and giving us a chance to win,” Glennon said.

Until the Bears’ coaching staff believes Trubisky gives them a better chance to win than Glennon, it’ll be status quo in the quarterback room. It didn’t sound like Fox had got to that point after the game, though that’s without the benefit of reviewing the tape. Perhaps the coaching staff decides after watching Sunday’s film that they need to make a change.

But for now, the message was clear: This wasn’t all on Glennon, even if the box score reads like a lot of it was.

“We have to get better as a football team,” Fox said. “That wasn’t the Mike Glennon Bears, that was the Chicago Bears. It was our team. I haven’t looked at all the stats and all the exacts, but there’s a lot of people that had their hand in it and we’ll leave it at that.”

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

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USA Today

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

Mitchell Trubisky shook his head and grinned when he fielded yet another question this week about the touchdown pass Tarik Cohen threw against the Baltimore Ravens.

“Dang, you guys can’t get enough of this,” Trubisky said. “I talked about it after the game. Dowell (Loggains) was saying it was the best pass of the game. I’m like, ‘All right, geez, let him play quarterback.

“… He threw a dime ball. I love how he was fading away on it and celebrating on the 50-yard line. Zach (Miller) made a great catch. So A-plus; really impressive spiral, especially with the gloves on. Can’t count any of that out. Tarik’s a special player and it was an awesome throw.”

The point here is less about Cohen’s throw and more about the Bears finding yet another way for the rookie running back to make an impact. So far this year, Cohen has rushed 50 times, caught 26 passes, returned 14 punts and now thrown that historic touchdown. He’s been asked to block in pass protection more frequently, allowing him to be on the field more. And he’s worked with wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni and Kendall Wright (who Cohen referred to as another receiver coach for him) to expand his route tree, leading him to be the most-targeted player (33 targets) on the Bears through six weeks. 

That may seem like a lot to put on the plate of a fourth-round draft pick from an FCS school, but it hasn’t been too much for Cohen. 

“We need Tarik to be that guy for us — the best playmaker we have,” Loggains said. “There’s no secret there. And he’s a guy who we’ll continue to use, and people are aware of him. So how creative can we get with him? How many different things can we do with him? 

“Like, we’re stretching him. Mentally, he’s stretched to the max playing all these positions — motioning out to wide receiver, playing running back and doing more in the backfield with more carries. So we have to keep stretching him and keep using him in the offense.”

Opposing defenses have keyed on Cohen since his explosive debut Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, scheming to muffle his playmaking ability. But he still managed to nearly have a walk-off 73-yard run against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, and then in Week 6, with defenses figuring they could crash down on him on sweep plays to the edge, he (literally) threw another wrinkle into how to gameplan against him. The next time the Bears run a toss sweep to Cohen, opposing safeties will have to think twice about bolting toward the line of scrimmage to stop him. 

Every time Cohen seems to hit a rookie wall, he and the Bears find a way to knock it down. The discussion a week ago about Cohen was that he was dancing too much and not cutting upfield quick enough; this week, it’s all about his perfect quarterback rating. 

“Our coaches do a good job of continuing to put him in places so he can be successful,” fellow running back Benny Cunningham said. “But ultimately I feel like he has such a genuine love of the game, I don’t see that happening (hitting the wall). Since the day he’s been here, from Day 1 to today, I’ve seen no drop-off in his desire to be successful and to help this offense.”

The Bears have known this about Cohen's mentality since they scouted and drafted him back in the spring, and his potential only blossomed after getting him into Halas Hall in May — “Early on, we knew Tarik was going to be pretty special,” coach John Fox said. But Cohen wouldn’t be able to reach that potential without the ability to handle the responsibilities of all the different tasks the Bears have asked of him so far. 

Cohen’s ability to do so many different things makes him an important player for this team, and his ability to do them with an exciting, playmaking flair has made him a fan favorite since training camp. So what’s next for the 5-foot-6 rookie?

“I think we’ve got something — I’ll punt the ball this week,” Cohen joked. “Naw, I’m playin’. I can’t put the ball for nothing, I don’t think. It’ll probably go like 20 yards.”

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

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USA Today

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

Nick Kwiatkoski was a full participant in Bears practice on Friday, marking the first time the second-year linebacker has done that since he suffered a pec injury Sept. 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Kwiatkoski sounded confident he could make his return five weeks after suffering that painful injury. 

“It’s not really my decision,” Kwiatkoski said. “I’m preparing like I am, so we’ll see. … “In my head I am (playing). But we’ll see.”

The Bears’ defense, despite placing three key players — linebackers Willie Young and Jerrell Freeman and safety Quintin Demps — on injured reserve, has been solid at worst so far this year. Pro Football Focus has Vic Fangio’s group as the third-best defense in the NFL through Week 6, behind only the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars. 

While Christian Jones played some quality snaps next to Danny Trevathan (and John Timu — he struggled after Timu’s injury against Minnesota), Kwiatkoski represents an upgrade at inside linebacker. The Bears liked what Kwiatkoski did last year in place of an injured Trevathan, and were confident they wouldn’t miss a beat with him filling in after Freeman’s Week 1 injury. 

“He’s a smart guy who has been willing to work,” coach John Fox said. “And I’ve seen that improvement from last year to this year. And anytime you get whacked or injured or taken out for some reason, you’ve got to kind of regain that again. It’s like a do-over. So he has had a good week.”

Kwiatkoski stayed sharp by going through meetings and film study as if he were playing while that pec injury — which he said felt like a “bad pulled muscle” — kept him sidelined for practices and games. If Kwiatkoski indeed is active and/or starting Sunday against Carolina, the hope is he can step in and pick up where he left off in Week 2. 

“I have all the confidence that he'll do fine,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said prior to Kwiatkoski’s injury. And that confidence, in all likelihood, still exists.