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One Bears offseason change? It’s got to be Glennon

The Bears made their biggest offseason impact in the draft, but the biggest offseason news was Mike Glennon. Based on how they used him, the move was a mistake.

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Would you believe me if I told you that I still don’t think it was necessarily a bad idea for the Bears to sign Mike Glennon? I guess you would, if only because I’ve packed that sentence with so many qualifiers that any perceived hard statement therein is irrelevant.

I’m telling you this because Lester passed along SB Nation’s latest roundtable question, which I jumped on:

Now that the season has begun to play out, what would your team do today if they could go back and change one move they made in the offseason? Would it instead be a move or addition they didn't make?

After deep soul searching, (and with apologies to Patti), my answer for this is the Glennon signing, despite not fully thinking it was a terrible plan. For me, my choice is the result of two factors:

  1. Process of elimination with other potential offseason moves.
  2. How Glennon performed in 2017, and the effect it might have on the season.

Let’s start with the process of elimination.

Should we have tagged Alshon Jeffery?

When we were heading into free agency, the biggest questions revolved around Alshon Jeffery and our quarterback. In February, the WCG staff debated the merits of using the franchise tag on Alshon; we landed on four votes to tag, three votes to let him walk, and one “I have no idea” vote. I didn’t participate in that story — I don’t remember why — but I was in the “let him walk” camp for mostly the reasons that Kev provided:

He's a good receiver. He's not top 5 league receiver. Tagging him will keep whomever their rookie quarterback is from developing any real rhythm or relationship, because if he plays well, he will likely just bolt after playing on the tag because someone else will pay more.

Six weeks in, I have no problem with Pace’s decision not to tag him. Take a look at two free agent wide receivers, their 2017 salary per Spotrac, and their 2017 stats:

  • WR #1, $9.5 million: 48 targets, 24 receptions, 317 yards, 13.2 yards/rec., 2 TD
  • WR #2, $2.0 million: 26 targets, 20 receptions, 236 yards, 11.8 yards/rec., 1 TD

Wide receiver #1 is Alshon Jeffery.

Wide receiver #2 is Kendall Wright.

Should we have signed Markus Wheaton?

This signing has clearly been a bust. Wheaton signed an $11 million deal over two years, received a $1.5 million signing bonus, has been targeted nine times, has one catch for four yards, and is out for four to six weeks with a torn groin.

This is bad.

But the signing looks much, much worse due to two factors that have nothing to do with him: the injuries to Cam Meredith and Kevin White. Along with Alshon and eventually Wheaton, the other name that was floating around for the Bears was Terrelle Pryor, who eventually signed with Washington for $6 million.

Let’s play the 2017 mystery wide receiver game again:

  • WR #1, $6 million: 29 targets, 16 receptions, 209 yards, 13.1 yards/rec., 1 TD
  • WR #2, $2.0 million: 26 targets, 20 receptions, 236 yards, 11.8 yards/rec., 1 TD

Wide receiver #2 is Kendall Wright.

Wide receiver #1 is Terrelle Pryor.

So Pryor wasn’t the answer, and Alshon at that money wasn’t the answer, and Kendall Wright has looked pretty damn sharp. The Wheaton signing was bad, but it’s not the reason we are 2-4.

Should we have signed a top defensive lineman?

Who else did Bears fans have an eye on? Johnathan Hankins, then of the Giants, and Dontari Poe, then of the Chiefs, were two names that popped up in free agent projections for the Bears.

My feeling then was the same as it is now: our front-7 was already a strength. No need to spend additional resources on the line for anything less than a sure thing. Considering the free agent pool and our own roster, I didn’t see any d-linemen that I felt strongly about. That hasn’t changed.

Should we have done something differently in the secondary?

It’s possible that this would be an area of debate if we hadn’t seen the improved play of the secondary over the past two games. Kyle Fuller is producing his best season since his rookie year. Adrian Amos has become a team leader, not to mention a man with a pick-six. Eddie Jackson looks like a long-term answer at safety. Free agent signee Prince Amukamara has played well, as has veteran Bryce Callahan.

The Quintin Demps and Marcus Cooper signings haven’t been as big of a plus as we hoped, but I don’t think that’s the reason we’re 2-4, either.

Should we have signed Colin Kaepernick?

I certainly think so. He’s a better quarterback than either Glennon or Mark Sanchez. Ryan Pace said the issue was “skill set”:

We looked at every single quarterback that was available. To us, it just came down to the skill sets we value. That was us personally evaluating his skill set.

The skill set idea regarding Kaepernick has been widely debunked, most notably by former NFL defensive end Stephen White. (I compiled more links on the subject on my website.) Like I said, I think Kaepernick is a better quarterback than Glennon, and I find it hard to believe that anyone who has watched both players wouldn’t agree.

But as with all things Glennon, the debate about signing or playing him is a different one from the debate about signing or playing someone else. Additionally, I think the sooner our rookie QB played (whether Trubisky or, hypothetically, Deshaun Watson), the better, meaning any veteran quarterback logging a ton of starts this year was going to bode poorly for the 2017 season.

So let’s set the Kaepernick debate aside and look at this:

Should we have signed Mike Glennon?

This gets back to my original ambiguity. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the Glennon signing. I have a problem with the Glennon starting.

We signed Glennon on March 9. On March 23, we signed Sanchez. Here’s how Pace explained the Sanchez signing:

(Glennon is) a young player coming into a starting role in a big market. And Sanchez has done that, so I think having some of those experiences is going to help behind the scenes.

This suggests that the team thought Glennon would be an effective starter, regardless of whether or not we spent a high draft pick on a QB. Of course, that’s exactly what we did, meaning Glennon was always viewed as a bridge quarterback, since Pace was so intent on drafting Mitch Trubisky.

So, what is my issue with the Glennon signing? My issue is that once it became evident that Glennon was a net-negative on the field, he no longer should have been playing. To me, Glennon’s career combined with his preseason performance was enough to jeopardize his starting job heading into week 1.

Whether that meant Sanchez or Trubisky should have started in his place is a separate debate. This isn’t a “meatball” take, as so many suggested at the time about anyone who dared to challenge Glennon’s starting job. It’s just evaluation from what I and others saw. I dare say we’ve been proven right.

Therefore, if there was something about the Glennon signing that prevented the Bears from making that move earlier than Week 5 — either the money, promises they made to Glennon, or a desire to not be proven wrong in their talent evaluation — then THAT is why the signing was the biggest offseason move I would change.