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.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Should Roquan Smith make his debut against the Broncos?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Should Roquan Smith make his debut against the Broncos?

Seth Gruen, Chris Emma and Matt Zahn join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester pitches like Jon Lester again and the offense does just enough to win in Pittsburgh. Jim Deshaies joins the guys to talk about the Cubs.

 

Should Roquan Smith make his preseason debut in Denver? Plus the Ohio State controversy takes a salacious turn. Will Urban Meyer keep his job when the investigation wraps up Sunday?

 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Five things to watch for the Bears in Saturday's preseason meeting with the Broncos

Five things to watch for the Bears in Saturday's preseason meeting with the Broncos

DENVER — Expect the Bears’ starters to play deeper into the first half on Saturday in Denver than they did last week in Cincinnati, but their time on the field will still be relatively brief. The real dress rehearsal for the Bears will be next weekend, when they gameplan for and host the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 25. 

But Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium still represents sort of a checkpoint in the buildup to Sept. 9’s season-opening tilt with the Green Bay Packers. It’ll be the last game of the installation phase of the offseason, with coaches turning their focus to gameplanning for the Chiefs next week and then the Packers afterwards. 

There’s still plenty to be learned on Saturday, though. A few things to watch:

1. Will the first-team offense actually produce?

Mitch Trubisky this week bristled at the notion preseason games didn’t matter — “They don’t matter?” he said. “Then why do you guys talk about them so much?” — which fits with the attitude of a guy who was fairly frustrated with his and his teammates’ performance against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Trubisky wasn’t happy with offense’s sloppy and ineffective play during the two drives he quarterbacked, and wasn’t willing to write it off as “just” a preseason game. 

“No matter what it is, if it’s on the practice field, if I’m in the backyard by myself, if it’s a preseason game, we’re trying to get better and we’re trying to move the football,” Trubisky said. “That’s what great players do. That’s what great teams do. We’re trying to get some momentum and everybody do our job and execute the offense.”

Still, because the Bears aren’t doing much in the way of gameplanning for the Broncos, any production or lack thereof won’t tell us much about the direction in which this offense is headed. More important will be how successful this group is next week against the Chiefs. 

But Trubisky’s competitiveness means he’s not going to let a poor performance slide, even if it’s only for a few series in a game that doesn’t count. He and the Bears hope that translates into some first downs and points on Saturday. 

2. Some notable debuts

Helping Trubisky’s cause will be the 2018 preseason debuts of running back Jordan Howard and wide receiver Allen Robinson, as well as running back Tarik Cohen — who only played one snap against Cincinnati — perhaps being used more. 

The Bears’ offense will not be at full strength, with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (foot) and tight end Dion Sims (concussion) still out. But for Trubisky, it’ll be a good opportunity for him to see how all the work he and Robinson put in to develop a chemistry in the last few weeks translates to the field.

“We continue to create that chemistry in practice and my job is just to get the ball to the playmakers,” Trubisky said. “The more playmakers we have on the field, just continue to get them the ball and let them do what they do and we just need to roll as an offense, be on the same page, everyone continue to do their job, lock in and go out there and have fun an execute. It’ll be nice to see those guys with the ball in their hands this weekend.”

3. What about Roquan?

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith in full uniform going through pregame warmups, but it would qualify as a minor surprise if he actually played on Saturday. 

The benefit to Smith playing would be working to accelerate his development with an eye on Week 1, even if it’s only for a few snaps. But does the risk of him getting injured outweigh whatever benefit playing him would provide?

It’s a question the Bears surely are debating. But coaches and trainers made sure to not push Smith too hard in this week’s joint practices against the Broncos, and it would be risky to put him in Saturday but tell him to not play at full speed. 

It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Smith to play on Saturday, but more likely would be No. 58 making his preseason debut against the Chiefs with another week of practice under his belt. 

4. Snap decisions

James Daniels felt like he was a little sloppy last week against the Bengals, specifically with his hand placement but more broadly because the intensity of things was increased. 

“I think that’s when my technique gets sloppy is when you’re out there and playing against somebody else, you’re really playing,” Daniels said. 

This week’s joint practices, then, were beneficial for Daniels to focus on keeping his technique sound in a more intense setting. And he had the opportunity to do that all while still playing center, not left guard, where he had been working up until last week. How Bears coaches evaluate Daniels' week of practice — which certainly wasn't perfect — will be important, especially in the context of...

... Cody Whitehair going through a snapping “slump” over the last week or so, starting with that preseason game in Cincinnati. If those low/high snaps crop up again Saturday, and Daniels is able to put in a solid day of work with the second-team offensive line, it may nudge the Bears toward moving Whitehair to guard and inserting the second-round Iowa product into the starting lineup. 

The Bears haven’t considered that move yet, though, and the plan all along has been to keep Whitehair at center. A lot has to happen for that plan to change: If Whitehair can’t consistently get snaps to Trubisky, if Daniels proves he’s one of the team’s best five offensive linemen, and then if Daniels proves he’s a better option at center than Whitehair. So far, the Bears haven’t arrived at any of those conclusions, but Saturday’s game could have a significant impact on what those conclusions wind up being. 

5. Down-the-depth-chart position battles

Plenty of players fighting for a spot on the Week 1 53-man roster will get an extended opportunity to put more good — or bad — things on film on Saturday. 

Near the top of the depth chart, Adam Shaheen will have another opportunity to keep his arrow pointing up at the “Y” tight end spot with Sims still out. Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris will continue their competition for the final starting spot on the defensive line, with Bullard still likely the slight favorite. Nick Kwiatkoski can help his case to hold off Smith with another solid showing in what’s been a solid preseason. 

An all-hands-on-deck competition to be the Bears’ reserve outside corner is developing, and with Prince Amukamara (groin) not practicing this week, everyone from that group will get a chance to help their case of making the Week 1 roster. Marcus Cooper needs to have a better game than he did against Cincinnati, while 2017 practice squad’er Doran Grant should get plenty of opportunities, too. For undrafted rookies Kevin Toliver, Michael Joseph and John Franklin III, it’s a big opportunity, too, to turn a longshot bid for a roster spot into something more realistic.