At Trubisky's first training camp, plenty of reminders that Mitch-a-palooza isn't happening anytime soon

At Trubisky's first training camp, plenty of reminders that Mitch-a-palooza isn't happening anytime soon

BOURBONNAIS — Hold off on ordering the balloons and cake, folks. Mitch-a-palooza ain’t happening for a while.

Despite the Bears trading up for the No. 2 pick in this spring’s draft and using it to select Mitch Trubisky, the much-heralded quarterback out of North Carolina, Trubisky’s time as the Bears’ starting quarterback likely won’t be coming anytime soon.

The team has made it pretty clear that veterans Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez stack up first and second, respectively, on the depth chart, meaning that barring significant injuries or a significant lack of production, Trubisky could very well not play at all during his first season in the NFL.

That’s fine with Trubisky, apparently, who spent the majority of his 10-minute media session after Saturday’s practice in Bourbonnais talking about things Ryan Pace, John Fox & Co. are probably happy to hear him talking about: his desire to get better, his desire to better understand the offense, his respect for his veteran teammates and his end goal of helping the team to win games.

So even if fans are already filling the grandstands in late July to get a glimpse of the Bears’ future at quarterback — with one fan going as far to sport a day-glow orange Trubisky jersey this week — they shouldn’t expect to get their wish for the No. 2 pick to supplant Glennon as the starter in 2017.

“I have to respect the plan that they have in place, and I have to believe in that. So that’s what I’m doing,” Trubisky said.” We have a great quarterback room. Mike, Mark and Connor (Shaw) have really been helping me with everything I need, mental side of the game as well as preparation and going into practice and just staying on top of the plays and all that. So for me, it’s just control what I can control, get better every day and believe in the plan that they have in place. It’s all about winning games for the Bears.

“They have a plan, we’ve just got to believe in it and execute it.”

Trubisky was believed to be the top quarterback in the draft at the very start of his only season as a starting quarterback at the college level. The Bears surprised by jumping up a slot to select Trubisky, but the rookie has already earned the support of many fans who would rather see him under center than Glennon.

But plenty of rolls got slowed Saturday, when Trubisky showed himself as a rookie with an ugly sequence of reps in practice, fumbling three snaps and bobbling another.

“It was frustrating because that was uncharacteristic of me. I've got to handle that,” Trubisky said. “They were just wasted plays, so I was kind of frustrated because I kind of wasted a team session right there and I didn’t allow myself or my teammates to get better.

“You’ve got to block that out, bounce back. The other quarterbacks and coach said something to me that allowed to get back in rhythm and play football. That’s the most critical part of the play, and I’ve got to take care of that.

“I think I just lost focus there for a period of time. And then I was starting to overthink it and just couldn’t get it. It’s all about bouncing back and continuing to get better throughout practice. I messed that up, but I also improved in other areas.”

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Three bad exchanges in the first practice in pads of Trubisky’s NFL career shouldn’t be cause for much alarm. But it did serve as a look into the development process. Few rookie quarterbacks arrive in the NFL a finished product, and Trubisky knows he’s got a lot more learning to do. His coaches know that. His teammates know that. Still, they’ve been impressed with how Trubisky’s jumped into that process.

“He’s learning a whole new offense and a whole different NFL coverage package where he’ll see a little more extensive types of coverages. The guy’s done everything he can,” Fox said. “He’s improving every day, he’s got a great work ethic, and he learns quickly and works hard. You can’t ask for much more.”

“He’s been on point. He’s had his ups and downs. Being a rookie, it’s hard to kind of get going in training camp, but he comes in every day prepared like a pro,” wide receiver Cameron Meredith said. “That’s good to see. He’s obviously going to get better, so we’re excited for that.”

Trubisky is using his first training camp to learn. That might not be what some folks want to hear, hoping instead to hear about the Bears’ rookie quarterback making highlight-reel passes all over the field and breathing down Glennon’s neck on the aforementioned depth chart. But the reality is that the Bears drafted Trubisky for the long term, for what they hope he can provide years down the road.

And so in the present day, Trubisky needs to figure out how to prepare for a season during which he might not see the field.

“I’m still figuring that out,” he said. “And that’s me watching guys like Mark, Mike and Connor, how they prepare, how they carry themselves at practice and really all the time. I’m still learning about that. For me, it’s all about trying to master the offense, having command in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and using my natural abilities, as well. It’s just being patient, keep going out there and improving my game and taking care of the little things.

“As a competitor, you want to play in any situation, but you’ve just got to be aware of your situation and make the best out of it. You’ve got to believe that the people have a plan in pace and believe in that plan and go about your business.”

It sounds like Trubisky is handling the situation well. It remains to be seen how the fans and the media handle it once the season begins.

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.