When you know, you know, especially in the case of the normally tight-lipped and sarcastic Chicago Bears head coach John Fox. Fox isn’t known for saying much of anything of real substance to the media in his coaching career. He’s not obligated to and it’s not like most coaches reveal any real transgressions anyway. It’s the simple modus operandi of many in the NFL, not just Fox.
So when Fox offered genuine detailed praise for his rookie No. 2 overall pick in Mitchell Trubisky during this past weekend’s rookie minicamp, eyebrows furled everywhere.
“He’s had a great camp. We’ve really had a good productive camp,” said Fox of his supposed franchise passer and overall team.
A general statement in the light of coach-speak, sure. Heavy generalizations galore. But Fox didn’t stop dead in his tracks in the praise of his new quarterback. Nor did he mince on any specific details according to CSN.
“He’s very accurate, very smart, he’s got good football character, as far as transferring things from the meeting room to the field. And I think we saw that today,” said Fox. Today meaning Friday’s first practice, Trubisky’s introduction to the NFL. Even if it was against similarly green players, Trubisky stuck out, and that’s music to Chicago’s ears. A slight affirmation of their conviction to acquire him. For the veteran coach in Fox to stick his neck out in that fashion speaks volumes of what the Bears believe they have under center.
Trubisky is a smart and athletic player who can operate within and outside the confines of an offense, as he showcased some of his arm talent and accuracy all weekend. He’ll be unleashed, gradually.
However, they, like Fox, also know it’s going to take time and that it’s way too early to reveal any playing hands after just three practices. None of these young guys such as Trubisky have even put on full pads yet or have had contact at the professional level. This was dipping your toes into the pool to check the temperature. For now, it’s lukewarm.
So, while Fox offered genuine acclaim for his 22-year-old potential premium face of the franchise, he also made sure to maintain an air of doubt, which could create competition: never the worst idea for a football team.
“I think that’s still a stretch,” said Fox when asked for further elaboration on a previous similar question regarding the development of his young passer at the camp’s conclusion.
The logic here is sound but it’s more than Fox just saying he didn’t learn anything new about Trubisky the rest of the weekend. That much is obvious. It’s that there’s still so much to teach in mechanics, taking snaps, diagnosing coverages, reading blitzes, and more. That won’t come in the second week of May for any first-year quarterback, whether they were considered a generational talent or not.
This process is going to be drawn out.
There are going to be bumps in the road. It’s inevitable.
From horrible practice days, to possible interception-filled games once Trubisky actually steps in, to general misreads and inaccuracy in adjusting to a professional offense. There’s a lot to digest for a raw, former one-year starter that it will almost assuredly take more than a season. Maybe more than two. This is the kind of masterpiece painting or sculpture that will need to be revisited again and again.
On the bright side, at least the Bears understand this trial by error or fire, notion. And at least Trubisky can see the pitfalls ahead of him as well.
“We know Mike’s (Glennon) the starter,” said Trubisky talking about the current quarterback room at Halas Hall he’ll be joining this season. “But competition brings out the best in everyone.”
In actuality, that’s Trubisky not totally punting being in complete command of the Bears offense in September, and is also a humble and honest understanding of his current limitations until further notice. Glennon is simply more experienced (even if he hasn’t started in two seasons) and that gives the veteran a leg up on his rookie counterpart. Still, whomever comes out on top in this race - if the Bears truly and perhaps foolishly leave it up to fate versus outright ruling Trubisky redshirt 2017 - will only come out for the better for having beaten the other.
A double-edged quarterback sword for the young guy in Trubisky to sort through as he acclimates to the NFL.
For now, Trubisky can only control what’s immediately ahead, staring him in the face. The likely competition against Glennon hasn’t even moved out of the gates yet. Given his raw ability, perhaps that’s best, as Trubisky isn’t quite prepared to take on such a responsibility yet. That’s nothing to worry over either. Not at this stage where a quarterback is only a little over two weeks into his professional career.
Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said as much, while not having his quarterback shy away in the slightest to the challenges that will arrive soon.
“The expectations for him are to come in and develop as fast as possible,” said Loggains. “Those are the only expectations, that he gets better every day.”
Now, as fast as possible doesn’t necessarily mean two months. It doesn’t mean three years either. It’s how the Bears will view Trubisky to be ready to take the mantel in their timeline, if they’re patient. That’s when he steps in. And that’s not where the development curve will end either, even as Chicago learns to have it’s quarterbacks play nice on the field in competition. Trubisky will still be learning on the fly with more opportunities in any fashion, should he not seize the starting job outright.
“Our biggest challenge will be reps,” said Loggains of his quarterbacks. "There's no blueprint because every guy's different."
Loggains is well aware of the delicate balance he has to maintain in a Trubisky-Glennon dynamic that will define training camp and at minimum, a moderate chunk of 2017. He has to simultaneously develop a passer to help win now while also mediate between the two to understand if one may have a considerable leg up for the future. Not an easy task for any coordinator.
Though, remember, the Bears knew what they were getting into with Trubisky and possible hassles. General manager Ryan Pace didn’t hesitate in glowing praise of Trubisky when saying “he has potential to be a championship quarterback.”
To get that to platform, the Bears will need to weather any storm that will arise with Trubisky. The former incumbent in Jay Cutler was given every opportunity to succeed and Trubisky will receive a similar leash in that fashion. You don’t abandon ship at the first sign of a mistake. The expanse of information at hand in regards to quarterbacks is too much to comprehend all at once for evaluators and coaches.
Drafting a quarterback is an inexact science. Developing one, well, it seems like it’s a bit more difficult than nuclear physics.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.