Of any major NFL city, no one understands or knows good quarterbacks less than those related to the Chicago Bears. This isn't up for debate.
When you've never had a top-tier passer in the modern era, when your best quarterback ever played in the 1940's (Sid Luckman), any emblem of consistency, or lack of turnovers for the "Monsters Of The Midway", somehow becomes palatable.
When you haven't had an elite quarterback in decades, "fine" play is welcomed with open arms.
The standard and bar to clear in Chicago for a good quarterback is not making an egregious mistake i.e. a turnover. A very, very low bar indeed. With that in mind, the rest of a game, even if inherently completely mediocre, can be washed away as long as there's no magnifying negative highlight to point to.
Just think of the Jay Cutler era and how the perception of his quality play was never wholly appreciated on a wide level because of his penchant for turnovers semi-regularly. There are still people who believe Cutler was one of the worst quarterbacks of the 21st century instead of the average signal caller he really was because of this. When you find a quarterback that doesn't make the same boneheaded mistakes, but doesn't tilt the field either like Glennon, it becomes "fine" because at least he's not making those mistakes.
After years of either defending a physically gifted but flawed quarterback or forming an angry mob to run him out of town, the argument has now shifted to defending a quarterback who might as well not exist (Chicago's first touchdown drive of the season had no passes) or demanding better. In the past, defending the physically gifted but flawed quarterback was the proper thought - within reason - as demanding better is now.
The Bears can't resist quarterback controversy, ever, can they?
“I thought it was good. We have room for improvement everywhere. When you come up short, obviously it’s a bitter pill. Like the whole football team, we played pretty well but not good enough," said Bears head coach John Fox describing the play of his starting quarterback Mike Glennon, following the team's 23-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
As usual, ultimately non-committal words from Fox but somehow still giving the impression that Glennon's play overall was okay or put the Bears in position to win. Which is interesting. And wholly misguided.
Look at the conversation surrounding the Bears after falling six yards short of completing the massive upset against Atlanta and a common strange thread concerning Glennon develops, all ignited by Fox's "good."
Let's be perfectly clear: Glennon wasn't the sole reason the Bears fell to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The brunt of the blame of a loss never falls all on one player, even the quarterback. The defense after a mostly stellar effort let up several huge plays to tight end Austin Hooper - including an 88-yard dagger of a touchdown - that sticks out for one. And, this isn't necessarily a call for Mitchell Trubisky to start immediately even though Chicago should sincerely consider inserting the future as fast as possible.
No, here, the argument can be easily made that the Bears were only in position to win in spite of Glennon. Only the most minute of credit can go to the 27-year-old. He was merely passable in the end, but anything but good. An 86.8 passer rating makes it seem like Glennon played well throughout when that's a falsehood. Look at the tale of the tape.
Through approximately three quarters, Glennon had 41 passing yards. 41. Let that sink in. An accomplishment incredibly difficult to achieve in the pass-happy NFL of 2017.
For a little over the last 12 minutes of the first half, the Bears didn't complete a pass. A 27-minute stretch even elapsed between complete passes for the Bears. Considering the dink-and-dunk nature employed by Glennon and even Chicago's offensive scheme on Sunday (running back swing passes galore), all of those facts are egregiously horrendous.
On the surface when taking a look at the box score, Glennon's day against Atlanta in his first start in two years wasn't so bad. He completed 26 of 40 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. A game manager through and through.
But everything of consequence for Glennon happened in the fourth quarter where he was 18 of 27 for 163 yards and his lone touchdown to Tarik Cohen. When the Falcons, after mugging Chicago's offense following halftime adjustments, sat back and let the Bears have every route underneath. (Future note for all: stop this madness of the prevent defense.)
So in turn a quarterback with no dynamic talent at receiver or himself individually was then able to relatively pick apart a fast and athletic defense that had been bullying him for most of the day to that point. Yet because the Bears are sitting there with a chance to win the game in the final minute, that first three quarters of atrociousness from Glennon goes out the window, completely absolving him? That's not how it works.
You don't award a quarterback all the credit simply because his team was in position to win the game. Quarterback wins in such a team sport like football are so illogical, so ridiculously out-of-sorts to even consider. The Bears were in position because of a mostly solid defensive effort and electric all-purpose debut by Cohen. If Glennon had finished Chicago's comeback, the narrative would've undoubtedly been much more positive and less contentious than it is right now. He would've been awarded the baton. It still wouldn't have erased the fact that he did largely nothing for most of the game.
That's a dangerous method of evaluation. That's a step towards sensationalism. That's lazy excuse making and headline popping to it's highest degree. Glennon's play was not "fine" enough to warrant anything along those lines.
Yes, Glennon had pitfalls he had to work through. Actual roadblocks for a guy experiencing his first start in two years.
Right now, the Bears may have the worst receiving corps in professional football. That's what happens when Deonte Thompson and Joshua Bellamy are your top two receivers in the fourth quarter. Their best wideout might be a 5-foot-6, 179 pound tailback in Cohen. With a lack of weapons, it'll be difficult for any quarterback to succeed if no one can get open.
And for whatever reason, Chicago's coaching staff elected to put the training wheels on the veteran. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and company likely elected to play it safe with a guy like Glennon who only has now 20 career starts under his belt, but how does continually checking down or going with a 70-30 pass to run ratio help any quarterback get comfortable? News flash: it doesn't.
Still, Glennon was objectively all over the place even within the confines of a safe offense. I suspect the offensive line won't be happy with him in post-game film evaluation on some of the four sacks he took, for one. He's not exonerated altogether because of the limitations of other parts of Chicago's offense. A good quarterback can turn receivers into playmakers (cough), keep that in mind. A good quarterback can test a defense down field regardless of the play call.
And that isn't what Glennon did.
Realistically, who could've blamed Atlanta for mugging the Bears receivers all game and stacking the box from the outset? It's what they did in the second half until calling back the dogs. Glennon was only going to test the Falcons downfield on the rarest of occasions. It's just not his style otherwise.
That telegraphing by opposing defenses is going to be a problem for most of this season against elite teams unless the Bears make whatever adjustment they can with Glennon, or pull him and actually insert Trubisky. No if's, and's, or but's about it.
Ultimately, this isn't about that at the moment, though. This is about calling for a higher standard of evaluation for Glennon, really for anyone under center for the Bears. Demand better.
Glennon wasn't "fine" against the Falcons. Far from it. His debut wasn't "impressive." It wasn't good enough to win. It was thoroughly and familiarly mediocre, all according to Bears' quarterbacks past.
"Fine" isn't the bar we should be aiming for with Bears quarterbacks or any player.
"Fine" isn't a justifiable reason for keeping the promising future on the bench if this play continues.
"Fine" is how the Bears have operated for years. Always settling for the safe option whether it be a coach or player, always "fine." Never fully taking the leap and shooting for the stars. There are bountiful examples to point to.
In that respect, Glennon is perfect for the Bears. Because he's "fine."
You just wish in your heart of hearts that they aimed for more.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.