The Chicago Bears are coming off a terrible performance on Thursday Night Football in Week 4, falling to the division rival Green Bay Packers 35-14 at Lambeau field. The Bears now find themselves at 1-3 heading into yet another tough matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
I wrote back in July about how the Bears should approach this season with Mike Glennon and 2nd overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky heading into training camp, and the possibility of there being a quarterback controversy in Chicago. Although there wasn’t one at that time, there certainly was one after Thursday night and now it has been announced that Trubisky will be the starter heading into Week 5 against the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
I was on board with the notion that the Bears should let Glennon be the Week 1 starter and to remain the starter throughout 2017 regardless of what would happen. Be patient I said. It’ll be fine I said. But after the performance of Mike Glennon to date, it is no surprise that there were calls for Trubisky to start. Is Trubisky really learning anything by sitting behind Glennon at this point? This answer has to be no, and the Bears certainly seem to agree.
Where did it all go wrong for Glennon?
I didn’t envision at all that Glennon would struggle as much as he has. Committing 4 turnovers (2 fumbles and 2 interceptions) as he did against Green Bay is not going to win you any games in the NFL. The Bears now have more turnovers (nine) than scoring drives (eight), so where is Glennon going wrong?
Let’s start with the very first offensive play for the Bears against Green Bay. The Bears were expected to get the running game going early behind Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, however this play is a pass play that leads to a strip sack by Packers linebacker Clay Matthews on Glennon. I like the play call here, as I believe the Bears were looking to get the Packers to respect the pass before ultimately turning to the run game.
The Bears here are lined up in 12 personnel. Tight end Zach Miller (#86) is initially lined up outside the receiver, then pre-snap he motions inside and once the ball is snapped he runs a simple route to the flat. Glennon simply doesn’t see him when he should for the easy completion and a 5-to-10 yard gain.
Glennon has to see this read and he simply holds onto the ball too long, lacking the awareness to feel the pressure coming. A quick read and release and it’s an easy completion.
On this next play, Glennon’s first interception, the Bears this time are in 11 personnel with 1 receiver, Markus Wheaton (#12), lined outside to the boundary side with 2 receivers wide to Glennon’s right. This is just an example of the wrong read here for Glennon. He’s protected well and if he sees Kendall Wright (#13), who is lined up in the slot, and allows that route to develop, then this could have been a big pass play. Instead it’s an interception on a poor throw.
There are a couple of other interesting aspects of this play, opportunities Glennon had to potentially prevent the interception. If he had seen Wright faster, he certainly could have gotten the ball off to him. He also could have moved in the pocket, either to buy time or to scramble forward for a gain of a few yards. He also has a nice throwing window if he sees Kendall Wright running deep to his right on this play.
On Glennon’s second interception again it’s the wrong read and a poor throw. The Bears are chasing the game here in the 3rd quarter down 28-7, lined up in 11 personnel and Glennon goes straight to his first read, wide receiver Deonte Thompson (#14). As he releases the ball Packers cornerback Josh Jones (#27) is between Glennon and Thompson. As a result, Glennon has to throw it high and it sails over Thompson’s head and into the arms of Kentrell Brice (#29).
The alternative read is to the route of Josh Bellamy (#15) who runs out into the flat from the slot and is open as Glennon releases the ball. He also has the checkdown option to running back Benny Cunningham (#30).
While this particular play could be down to Glennon just trying to force the issue given the Bears deficit at the time, the result of the play didn’t help Glennon’s chances of keeping the starting job. This game was the final nail in the coffin for Glennon and ultimately the Bears had seen enough to know that now is the time to turn to their future.
The time is now. It’s Trubisky time.
Trubisky was no doubt eager for the call to get his first start in week 5 and he’s got it now. While Trubisky was impressive in training camp and the preseason as we saw his accuracy on show, his mobility and ability to be able to make impressive throws on the run while not being afraid to go deep, the regular season is a different story altogether.
However, the Bears could not afford to be cautious here with the season already slipping away from them. Trubisky will no doubt have some growing pains, however we never saw that last year from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and don’t to this point seem to be seeing it this season from Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson either.
The Bears have a lot invested in Glennon this year, whose cap hit is $14m, which by the way is the same as Tom Brady. Yes, Tom Brady. Did the Bears truly want to bail on Glennon this early? Glennon certainly made this decision easier for them as the weeks rolled on by. They now have a very expensive back-up on the bench, not ideal short-term but looking at Glennon’s 3 year deal he signed in the off-season, the Bears can afford to cut him at seasons end.
If the Bears cut him this season they’ll lose $18.5m in dead cap, this drops significantly in 2018, with the dead cap hit being $4.5m with a base salary of $12.5m, which is up from $8m this year, per Spotrac.com.
It’s an exciting time now in Chicago, and with Glennon not performing as hoped, it’s the perfect time to put Trubisky in. However, expectations should be tempered somewhat given what’s around him. Yes he has a good offensive line in front of him and a good running game which will help. But if he has to air it out then he has to count on the likes of Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Deonte Thompson and Josh Bellamy. Not ideal for any quarterback should the going get tough.
Trubisky is of course still on his rookie deal where he’ll count only $6.5m towards the cap in 2018, which allows the Bears to address weak areas of the team heading into free agency and the draft, notably wide receiver and secondary. For now, the Mitchell Trubisky era begins. Will he live up to the billing of a second overall pick? Nobody knows. But if his pre-season performances translate well into the regular season, Bears fans will have even higher hopes that maybe, just maybe, Trubisky is what the Bears organization had hoped for, and more.