Bears

Why John Fox won’t turn to Mitchell Trubisky over Mike Glennon yet

Why John Fox won’t turn to Mitchell Trubisky over Mike Glennon yet

John Fox left no gray area with this declaration on Monday: “Mike Glennon will be our starting quarterback against Pittsburgh.”

The Mitchell Trubisky era will have to wait, with Fox — after watching the tape of Sunday’s ugly 29-7 loss tom the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — not willing to make a change at quarterback yet. Fox still believes Glennon gives the Bears’ the best chance to win this weekend against a Steelers team that beat the Minnesota Vikings by 17 last weekend. It's unlikely that Trubisky would make his debut after a short week of preparation for Sept. 28's game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, either, so expect at least two more games of Glennon no matter what he does or doesn't do. 

“I think after two games it’s really hard to evaluate somebody,” Fox said. “… I don’t know if you should be fired or kept off of two things. But the truth of the matter is that right now, that’s the case. We’re playing arguably one of the better teams we’re going to play this year at home. We’re going to do everything in our power to look a little bit like we did in Week 1 than in Week 2. It gives us a chance.”

The concern is that even in Week 1, the Bears couldn’t win with Glennon executing the offense the way the team wanted (dropped passes by Jordan Howard and Josh Bellamy contributed, of course). If that wasn’t good enough to beat the Atlanta Falcons, could it be good enough to beat the Steelers or Green Bay Packers?

For now, though, Fox wants to see the rest of his team play well, including but not limited to Glennon — in whom he remains confident. 

“I think he makes good decisions, he works tirelessly in preparation, he works super hard,” Fox said. “It’s evident to his teammates — what you’d expect from a starting quarterback.”

Fox wouldn’t entertain hypotheticals involving what Trubisky needs to do to become the team’s starting quarterback, only saying “I think you just kind of know when it’s time.” That sounds like it’s more dependent on Trubisky’s development than what Glennon is or isn’t doing on Sundays. 

From Fox’s perspective, it’s so far, so good with what Trubisky has done in practice, though not to the point where he’s ready to take over yet. 

“I love where (Trubisky) is,” Fox said. “I love his growth. I think the guy works at it very hard. He’s into it on gameday.”

Under Center Podcast: What did win over Bengals mean for John Fox and Ryan Pace?

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AP

Under Center Podcast: What did win over Bengals mean for John Fox and Ryan Pace?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin debate what the Bears’ blowout win in Cincinnati meant for John Fox and Ryan Pace. Plus, how can Mitchell Trubisky and Adam Shaheen grow from how well they played on Sunday?

Listen to the latest episode here:

What was it like to coach against Devin Hester? 'You hold your breath'

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AP

What was it like to coach against Devin Hester? 'You hold your breath'

Jeff Rodgers had to gameplan for Devin Hester twice in his career as a special teams coordinator under John Fox: First, in 2010 with the Carolina Panthers, and second, in 2011 with the Denver Broncos. 

“You're holding your breath,” Rodgers, who’s in his third year as the Bears’ special teams coordinator, said. “There's been nobody like him in my generation.”

Neither of those games were necessarily the most memorable performances by Hester, who set an NFL record with 19 special teams touchdowns (14 on punt returns, five on kickoff returns). But the fact that Rodgers — like every other special teams coordinator from 2006-2016 — had to gameplan for Hester was notable in and of itself. 

“He was really the first guy that you really game-planned for and you saw different people take different approaches,” Rodgers said. “You see people try to punt the ball out of bounds. Well, defenses can combat that with some of the rush scheme so you may have to change that. Saw people try to kick fair catch balls and short because the reality is, if you played Chicago when he was rolling and you came out of the game with a 35 or 36 punt, which isn't great, but against him, you're usually taking that every time. He's as good as it gets.”

In that first meeting, on Oct. 10, 2010 in Charlotte, Rodgers’ strategy was to punt out of bounds or away from Hester to prevent him from fielding anything. 

At first, it didn’t work: Hester ripped off a 50-yard return on the first punt he fielded.

“We tried to punt the ball out of bounds and our punter put the ball about four inches from the sideline,” Rodgers said. “He reached in and got it and shot straight up the sideline.” 

From there, punter Jason Baker largely succeeded in kicking away from Hester, with his next six punts not being fielded or being fair caught. But the downside to that strategy was the Bears frequently received good starting field position — though having drives begin between the 40s was preferable to Hester ripping off a big return to set up a drive beginning in the Panthers’ red zone. 

A year later, Rodgers again had to figure out how to mute Hester’s success with the Denver Broncos. He was more successful in this Dec. 11, 2011 meeting, with Hester returning one kickoff for 25 yards and gaining 36 yards on two punt returns. Hester fair caught four punts, and one went out of bounds.

But Hester still notched returns of 26 and 10 yards despite Denver’s strategy to kick the ball as high as possible. 

“In Denver, we tried to hang it up there,” Rodgers said. “Did a good job on the first couple. Actually the best ball that our punter hit that day, that was the 2011 game, the best ball our punter hit that day with hang time and distance, he kind of circled around, went backwards, sideline, all of a sudden he turned a corner and you're holding your breath. We were able to get him on the ground, but he's a game-changer.”

The game-changing success Hester found as a return specialist should get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday, unless the rather strange stinginess on special teamers in Canton continues. But there’s no doubt in Rodgers’ mind when it comes to how great Hester was — and how maddening it was to scheme against him. 

“I'd say (he) changed the game on both kickoffs and punts,” Rodgers said. “He's the best that's ever done it.”