“What the hell are the Bears doing with their quarterbacks?”
That’s the question that everyone interested in the Chicago Bears has been asking since, well, okay fine, since the team’s inaugural NFL season in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys. More specifically, it’s the question we’ve been asking since March and April, when we signed Mike Glennon and drafted Mitch Trubisky.
This week — with two preseason games in the books and preparation underway for the pivotal 3rd preseason game Sunday against the Titans — that question has taken on an antagonistic, even conspiratorial tone, as fans and media wonder why Trubisky remains #3 on the QB depth chart when he has quite obviously looked like the team’s best quarterback during preseason games.
Following the Arizona showdown, my WCG colleagues were among the many sharing their thoughts on the Glennon-Trubisky showdown. Lester called Glennon’s starting job a “charade,” calling for Trubisky to start. Andrew speculated that John Fox was purposefully “sandbagging” Trubisky for his — Fox’s — own job security.
Josh told everyone to basically chill the F out, calling for “patience, not urgency” with Trubisky.
And that was just through Tuesday. The opinions and speculations have continued all week, which I am collecting in this thread:
The Trubisky #Eclipse— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) August 21, 2017
Start him! https://t.co/Aq4Dpq9ya9
Bears rookie report. https://t.co/BNptelF9NQ pic.twitter.com/nCeQgwARJk
Then came the big news.
Yesterday, both Glennon and Trubisky took reps in practice with the 1s. Glennon stated that he doesn’t think he is in a quarterback battle with Trubisky, yet soon after, Fox announced that Glennon would start the Tennessee game on Sunday followed by Trubisky starting the 2nd half with the 1s.
Fox also noted that this did not mean there was any change to the QB depth chart, meaning Trubisky is still technically behind #2 quarterback Mark Sanchez.
The madness peaked today when NFL analyst Ross Tucker reported that “a pretty good source” informed him that Trubisky would in fact START the Titans game — a report that both Zach Zaidman and Adam Shefter immediately contradicted via Fox:
Fox: "Right now Mike Glennon’s the starter. He’s going to start preseason 3, which is a pretty good indicator where you start the season.”— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) August 24, 2017
This all begs our original question:
“What the hell are the Bears doing with their quarterbacks?”
Along with a secondary question:
“Do they even know?”
Along with a third question:
“Is whatever they’re doing a good plan?”
I broke this down on Periscope yesterday, but in light of today’s see-saw reports (albeit one from a guy who quickly admitted that he was not an “insider/news breaker”) (thanks a lot, dude), it’s time to unravel the Glennon-Trubisky mystery, this time in writing.
Unraveling the Trubisky-Glennon mystery: This is what I think is happening...@wcgridiron https://t.co/iei34oB2iN— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) August 23, 2017
The following are all of the pertinent questions around Glennon and Trubisky, along with what I think is really happening. As we’ll see, there isn’t nearly as much mystery as might seem on the surface.
Why did we sign Mike Glennon?
Mike Glennon has not started an NFL game since 2014 and has thrown only 11 NFL passes since then. So naturally the moronic Bears gave him a guaranteed $18.5 million and the keys to the offense, right?
The most logical explanation to the Glennon signing has trickled out week by week, and I think we now have our answer:
Glennon was not simply a “bridge quarterback” to some hypothetical “quarterback of the future,” but he was a bridge to a very particular quarterback of the future, and — MOST CRUCIALLY — a smokescreen to the rest of the NFL disguising the fact that the Bears would pursue said “very particular quarterback of the future” with their 1st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The word after the draft was that the Bears had been so covert in their pursuit of Trubisky that other GMs were stunned by the trade and the pick. Like Keyser Soze before him, Ryan Pace had to pull the trigger himself to be sure he got his man. I view Pace’s Glennon/Trubisky machinations as the GM-version of a mythological crime lord creating a false identity as a fast-talking crippled con man to infiltrate a group of gangsters while faking a $91 million Hungarian drug purchase so that he could lead the gangsters to the purchase under the guise of “stopping the deal” in order to personally assassinate a man set to identify him in court.
And if that is true? If Pace signed Glennon more as cover for his Trubisky pursuit than for what Glennon would or would not bring to the team as a quarterback? You know what?
That is f****** genius.
Why did we sign Mark Sanchez?
When the Bears signed Sanchez two weeks after Glennon, fans wondered poo-pooed the deal because “we got the butt fumble guy??” But people who truly understood Sanchez’s value knew he was coming on board to mentor a young quarterback, as he did in New York with Geno Smith and Dallas with Dak Prescott.
That said, I suspect the Trubisky smokescreen was at play once again. By going with Sanchez over perhaps Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley (or even Colin Kaepernick), we gave the impression of a team that had both settled on a starter in Glennon and might still draft a quarterback — seemingly either Deshaun Watson at #3 or one of the lower-rated QBs in a later round.
Why did we trade up for and then draft Mitch Trubisky?
This one is simple: Pace thinks Trubisky is the quarterback to guide this franchise to a Super Bowl championship. He traded up to ensure that he did not lose out on his guy.
This has all been covered, of course, and I don’t think it’s really part of the overall mystery that is troubling Bears fans.
Why isn’t Trubisky the #1?
Okay, onto the good stuff.
The question about why Glennon is the #1 — or perhaps, why Trubisky is not the #1 — is also simple: the Bears signed Glennon to be the starter, and they have to see if he is, ya know, a starter.
So he’s the #1. At least to start camp and the preseason, that makes perfect sense.
Wait a second — why isn’t Trubisky the #2?
Fine, we all get it: Glennon is the #1. So why isn’t Trubisky the #2?
This came up during the first two preseason games as we saw the distribution and sequence of drives. In order:
Game 1 vs. the Broncos
- Glennon: 4 drives
- Sanchez: 2 drives
- Trubisky: 5 drives (video highlights)
Game 2 vs. the Cardinals
- Glennon: 5 drives
- Sanchez: 1 drive
- Trubisky: 3 drives (video highlights)
- Shaw: 1 kneel down
Why wasn’t Trubisky the #2 against Arizona? Well, because John Fox hadn’t changed the depth chart, dang nabbit, something he allegedly still has not done. But the final drive count shows fans where the emphasis on development lies:
- Glennon: 9 drives
- Trubisky: 8 drives
- Sanchez: 3 drives
So is Trubisky now the #2? He must be, right?
Now we come to yesterday, with Trubisky and Glennon each taking reps with the 1s in practice, and Fox announcing that each would play with the 1s against the Titans — Glennon in the 1st half, as the game’s starter, and Trubisky starting the 2nd half.
Trubisky will play with the 1s but there is no change to the QB depth chart? https://t.co/oGtKtqPZdA— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) August 23, 2017
What’s going on? I suspect this is just Fox being his usual dodgy, close-to-the-vest self. If Trubisky is playing with the 1s, and he’s going to be the 2nd quarterback in the game, then he is ostensibly the team’s #2 quarterback. The change is a formality.
Additionally, Fox has noted that playing Trubisky with the 1s is “probably” an “affront” to Glennon, a grievance that a player’s coach might not want to commit.
However, it’s also possible that Fox and Pace want to continually challenge Trubisky to earn what he can, which is important for any rookie quarterback but especially for one who had only one season of college football as a starter. More on this in a moment.
What are we going to see on Sunday?
Like Fox said, we’re going to see Glennon start the game, and then Trubisky start the 2nd half with the #1 offense. The only variable, therefore, is whether Tennessee’s defensive starters will still be in the game when Trubisky enters, but that aside, we will finally get to see what #10 can do with the team’s offensive starters.
Fox said that after Trubisky enters, “we’ll figure it out from there,” meaning perhaps we’ll see Sanchez and perhaps we won’t.
What do I think?
I expect we’ll see Trubisky deep into the 4th quarter, pulling him when the game is out of reach, or when the team wants to pull the 1st team o-line and does not want to risk injury to Trubisky.
Did the team needlessly put Trubisky in harm’s way against the Cardinals?
Probably. And I don’t think they’ll do it again. From here on out, when Trubisky steps on the field as a Chicago Bear, he’ll be doing it with the team’s best offensive linemen and running game.
Who will start the season as the #1?
There is a theory that Fox left Trubisky as the #3 against Arizona (and definitely against Denver) because he didn’t want to risk creating a quarterback controversy, and because he wanted to give himself job security by playing the quarterback who would give him the best chance to win games.
The first part of that equation is unavoidable: we have a quarterback controversy.
The second part, though, potentially plays to Trubisky’s favor: if Fox is concerned about protecting his job, he might indeed play the quarterback who can best give the Bears a chance to win games, and that quarterback might indeed be Trubisky.
While Fox noted yesterday that playing Trubisky with the 1s this weekend was planned “a long time ago,” Trubisky may have given another inkling to solving the mystery with this quote, as reported by Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times:
“I think I’ve progressed faster than they expected I would, but I’ve still got a long way to go, and I know that. But I think I’ve shown that I’ve earned these reps, and I just need to continue to get better each day.”
Asked how he knows that he has progressed faster than expected, Trubisky said, “I just kind of get that feel.”
Therefore, I predict... DRUM ROLL PLEASE...
- Trubisky will outplay Glennon now that they both are surrounded by the same players.
- The coaches will reach the conclusion that Trubisky outplayed Glennon.
- The coaches will reach the conclusion that Trubisky is the better quarterback.
- The coaches will start the better quarterback.
As many have noted, including Josh, there should be no rush to start Trubisky. While I technically agree, I think the flip side is true too: there should be no artificial delay in starting him. If he is the best man for the job AND he can be protected by a strong offensive line and running game (which we have), then he should start.
I think he will.
And that brings us to the last question:
Have the Bears gone about this in a smart way?
You know what? Yes, they have!
We needed to draft a quarterback in the first round. We did.
We needed to draft the quarterback we thought would be best for the team. We did.
We needed to sign veteran quarterbacks who could help the rookie. We did.
We needed to throw everyone off our Trubisky pursuit. We did.
We needed to get a team-friendly contract for our veteran starter. We did.
And most of all, we needed to see the rookie prove himself over the veterans. We’ve seen that and, I think, will see it definitively this weekend.
On Sunday, the day after the Arizona game, WCG community member Rock Badger wrote an intriguing piece about Trubisky and Glennon called “Trubisky isn’t the Bears’ Messiah — this man is.”
The “this man” in question was Mike Glennon, because as Rock Badger explained, “Messiah” means “anointed one,” and only one of our quarterbacks “has been treated as if he was the anointed one.”
That would be Glennon, whom at every turn the coaching staff has declared the starter. In word and deed, by depth chart positioning and 2017 salary, the team has committed fully to Glennon as the starter. In an interview before the Cardinals game, Pace started to tip his hand:
Pace just now, on if team will "deviate" from Glennon/Trubisky plan:— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) August 20, 2017
"The whole 1st team O has to play better ... It's got to play out."
Now we have reached the all-important 3rd preseason game. Glennon will play the 1st half with the 1s. Trubisky will start the 1st half... with the 1s.
The mystery — ever curious — will unravel itself.