Mark Sanchez’s lack of preseason play — he only quarterbacked three series in four games — didn’t turn out to be a sign the veteran would be cut when rosters were reduced to 53 on Saturday.
The Bears will move forward with three quarterbacks on their Week 1, with Sanchez likely serving as an emergency backup while Mitchell Trubisky continues to develop behind the scenes at Halas Hall. Sanchez, with 72 career starts and six more in the playoffs, will also lend some veteran leadership to a quarterback room with only 18 starts between its other two players (all of which belong to Mike Glennon).
“Mark’s been one of those mentors for me,” Trubisky said. “He just has so much knowledge being in the league for nine years now, he’s seen so many defenses and knows how to come into a new team how to study a new playbook. This playbook is new to him and me since I just got here as well, so he’s giving me tips about how to remember things, pick them up faster, how to study film on a weekly basis and really just how to carry yourself in the huddle. He helps me a lot with situational scenarios throughout the game, just always knowing what’s going on in the back of your mind, stuff like that. So he’s been awesome.”
Said Glennon in mid-August: “He's kind of the guy that when things are slouching a little bit at practice he kind of picks you up and makes you get back on track. He has a ton of experience in the NFL. He's good in the meetings. … He's been a great addition for the quarterback room.”
In keeping Sanchez, the Bears can control when Trubisky makes his regular season debut — i.e., they won’t have to insert him into a game in case something happens to Glennon because he’s the only other active quarterback on the sidelines. While Trubisky sped up his development timeline during training camp, the Bears will remain cautious with their second overall pick. When he makes his debut, it’ll be under the best possible conditions the Bears can manage.
Trubisky, too, could be among the inactive players on gameday if the Bears don’t plan to use him with Sanchez as the backup. Having Sanchez on the roster may not change when Trubisky makes his first start — if the Bears believe he gives them a better chance to win, he’ll play. But it does mean Trubisky won’t be the team’s backup, at least to begin the season.
“Mark’s a great teammate,” coach John Fox said. “He’s been tremendous for both our younger quarterbacks. He’s got the most experience of that room. So I think he brings a lot to the table as far as helping the other quarterbacks.”