Why the Bears should bench Mike Glennon and just start the Mitchell Trubisky era
Glennon played fine against the Falcons, but the Bears don't need a fine quarterback; they need a stud
Mike Glennon isn't solely responsible the Bears' season-opening loss to the Falcons on Sunday, when they came up a few yards short of shocking last year's NFC champs. Glennon isn't to blame for the Bears' late defensive meltdown, which led to an 88-yard touchdown on a crucial third down in the fourth quarter. Glennon played his best football in the fourth quarter, when the Bears faced a double-digit deficit. And if Josh Bellamy or Jordan Howard would've caught one of his two final catchable passes in and near the end zone, Glennon might've emerged as the Bears' hero.
But the Bears didn't win. They lost to the Falcons when Glennon took a sack on the Bears' final offensive play from the 5-yard line. And Glennon and his 5.3 yards per attempt are partially to blame for the final result.
The idea of spending time writing about the Bears, a not-good football team, losing a Week 1 game to the Falcons, a very good football team, might seem like a waste of time. And it is, if the only scope being used to examine the game is a short-term one. The Bears, even if they would've won on Sunday, are not journeying to the playoffs. The result really doesn't matter much to them in the context of the entire season.
But it is worthwhile to examine this game for one purpose only: to understand that it's already time for the Bears to bench Glennon and begin the Mitchell Trubisky era.
Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, didn't come cheap this offseason. The Bears gave away multiple draft picks to move up one spot and take a quarterback who likely would've been available at No. 3 overall. But the way the Bears are treating him makes it seem like they found him at a garage sale and are storing him away to use at a time they find convenient.
What the Bears don't realize is that the time is now. It's convenient now. They don't need to throw away this season so that Trubisky can watch Glennon throw check down after check down from the sidelines. This season can be meaningful for the Bears, but they don't appear to want it to be.
Why are the Bears willingly trotting out a quarterback whose peak ability is fine? What the Bears saw on Sunday was "fine." Glennon played it safe, constantly throwing the ball underneath, hence his 5.3 yards per attempt and zero interceptions. He was as bland as plain scrambled eggs without hot sauce. And given the situation -- his best receiver was ... Kendall Wright? -- I don't necessarily blame him for refusing to test the Falcons deep. He knows his strengths and his strength isn't launching 20-yard go-routes to no-name targets. It's playing conservative football, managing the game, and avoiding mistakes. He Brian Hoyer'd the heck out of the game on Sunday. And yes, it was nearly enough to beat the Falcons.
But for the Bears, there is no value in starting a "fine" quarterback. They're not the Broncos or the Texans -- two playoff-caliber teams that are solid quarterbacks away from becoming Super Bowl contenders. If they were, I'd be onboard with their decision to groom Trubisky on the bench. Glennon would be enough to push them over the top and give them a chance to play football into February while the rookie could potentially be a Christian Hackenberg-esque disaster who dooms a once playoff-bound season.
The Bears are not one of those teams, though. They're a team in the middle of a rebuild, which by the way, appears to be going pretty damn well considering they nearly beat the Falcons with a stingy defensive effort led by the recently extended Akiem Hicks, and an offensive attack spearheaded by second-year running back Jordan Howard and rookie running back Tarik Cohen. How valuable is a fine quarterback to this version of the Bears? A fine quarterback won't push the rebuilding Bears over the top. It won't help them turn the corner. As of now, with a fine quarterback, the Bears have reached their peak of a competitive team that hangs around, but consistently fails to break away or put the finishing touch on a win.
That's not to say Trubisky would turn the Bears into a playoff team this season. He likely wouldn't. The Bears might lose more games with Trubisky under center. But the Bears shouldn't care about the short-term ramifications of starting Trubisky, because -- again -- their peak with Glennon is not a peak that will extend as high as the postseason.
By starting Trubisky now, the Bears can already begin building for next season. Every young quarterback, regardless if he sits for a season or starts immediately, takes his lumps at some point. The Bears should let him take them this season so that a year from now, they can become more than just a competitive, tough team with a quarterback who needs to experience and overcome the hardships of the NFL. They should let him work out the kinks now so that they can realistically dream of the winds of winter and the playoff games that come with it.
Can anyone provide a reasonable explanation to explain why Trubisky is listed behind Glennon on the depth chart? The only ones I've see so far are related to Trubisky's health and the Bears not wanting to shatter his confidence. Both are overblown.
If the Bears start Trubisky against the Buccaneers on Sunday, they won't be throwing him behind a bad offensive line that can't hold its own. He won't take a beating. This won't be a David Carr situation. They'd be letting him play behind an offensive line that tied for the seventh-fewest sacks allowed year ago and ranked as Football Outsiders' eighth-best run blocking unit. He'd be without a competent WR1 -- that much cannot be denied after Cameron Meredith's injury (and Kevin White's) -- but he'd be able to give the ball to Howard and Cohen, a running back duo that combined for 179 yards from scrimmage on Sunday. If anything, the Bears offense is built for a young quarterback. Lean on the running game and take the game out of the quarterback's hands. That's what they did with Glennon on Sunday. And if you wanna point out that Glennon got sacked four times, I'd point out that Trubisky's mobility is substantially better than Glennon, who resembles a mannequin in pocket.
This is how Glennon deals with a free rusher outside the pocket:
This is how Trubisky deals with the a free rusher outside the pocket:
Obviously, their situations were different. Glennon's sack came in the regular season against a starting defense and the pass-rusher was in his face immediately while Trubisky's completion occurred in the second half of a preseason game when a second-unit defender was far away from him. They're not identical situations. But even in the plays above, you can see how much more athletic Trubisky is than Glennon. There's a reason why the Bears traded up to draft Trubisky and that reason isn't the Bears wanting Glennon 2.0 on their bench. Trubisky has a higher ceiling (the ceiling is the roof for UNC players, after all) than Glennon, and I'd argue their floors are roughly the same.
Which plays into the second overblown reason: that Trubisky isn't ready to face NFL defenses yet and that by trotting him out there, the Bears would be jeopardizing his confidence. If Trubisky can't operate the same offense that Glennon executed on Sunday night, then he was never worthy of the trade and the selection in the first place. The offense that Glennon ran on Sunday was simple, easy to execute, and limited. It was almost like the Bears didn't trust Glennon to operate a fully operational offense -- like Glennon himself was a rookie starting his first-ever NFL game.
You're telling me Trubisky can't do this?
Glennon went 26 of 40 for 213 yards (5.3 YPA), one touchdown, and an 86.8 passer rating. His longest pass gained 22 yards. This isn't cherrypicking. This was the gameplan. And Trubisky is capable of running an offense that looks like the Glennon-led one on Sunday.
And unlike Glennon, Trubisky can also do this:
When Glennon had a chance to hit a deep ball in a pivotal situation, he missed. At first glance, the throw below doesn't necessarily seem like Glennon's fault considering the defender in coverage knocked the pass away, but notice how Cohen is forced to slow down at the end of his route to let the ball catch up to him. Cohen had his man beat, but the ball was delivered behind him, which allowed the trailing defender to make up the distance between them.
This is a touchdown with a perfect throw that leads Cohen to the corner:
If it feels like I'm nitpicking, it's because I am. But that's entirely the point. The Bears don't have Matt Barkley on the bench anymore. They have the No. 2 pick in the draft sitting there. They're allowed to nitpick Glennon.
Earlier I said that it was understandable for Glennon to check it down because he knew the Bears' receivers aren't good and that his strength isn't the deep ball. That wasn't intended to be a compliment. It's an indictment. A great quarterback can generate big plays even with subpar supporting casts. For all of his faults, Jay Cutler did that in the last couple years of his Bears career.
This current Bears regime always hated Cutler for his turnovers. It's why John Fox wanted to stick with Brian Hoyer last year over Cutler. And now that the Bears have found a quarterback allergic to turnovers (and big-chunk plays), they almost seem content with that aspect alone. But that's a flawed way of looking at the quarterback position.
The Bears shouldn't settle for "fine" because fine isn't enough for them. This offseason, they went out and made a risky -- and an arguably dumb -- move by betting everything on Trubisky. Now, for some reason, they're terrified of actually playing him. It doesn't make sense. Maybe Trubisky will suck. Maybe he'll be the next Aaron Rodgers. The Bears should find out as soon as possible instead of delaying the inevitable.
I have nothing against Glennon. He's better than other starting quarterbacks in the league (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Scott Tolzien, etc.). He played OK on Sunday, arguably good enough to win a game the Bears had no shot of winning on paper. But the reason Glennon was even in that position was because his defense pitched a nearly perfect game and his running backs carried the offense.
Don't the Bears want to find out what happens when a quarterback is actually a part of the reason why their team is in a position to win? Don't the Bears want to, for once in their storied history, find out what it's like to have their own Aaron Rodgers?
That's never going to happen with Glennon. It might happen with Trubisky. It's time to find out. It's time for the Glennon era to die. It's time for Trubisky's to begin.
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