By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) The Bears will soon have a new quarterback, with the signing of former Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon to a three-year contract imminent that’s worth up to $43.5 million, with around $19 million guaranteed, per reports. After a season where the Bears went through three different starting quarterbacks, what will Glennon bring to the table for Chicago?
On the surface, this doesn’t look like an exciting signing, as the 27-year-old Glennon has hardly played in the last two seasons. In 2015, he didn’t attempt a throw after Tampa Bay drafted Jameis Winston No. 1 overall and turned the starting job over to him. In 2016, Glennon completed 10 of 11 throws for 75 yards and a touchdown.
The bulk of Glennon’s playtime came in 2013 and 2014. After being drafted in the third round in 2013 out of North Carolina State, he played in 13 games as a rookie and completed 247 of 416 throws for 2,608 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Under a new coaching staff the following year, Glennon played in six games and completed 117 of 203 throws for 1,417 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions interceptions.
You won’t find too many quarterbacks bigger than the 6-foot-7 Glennon in the NFL. His playing weight now is close to 235 pounds. Glennon isn’t the type who can extend plays with his feet, but he does have some ability to step up in the pocket and avoid the rush.
What Glennon has is a strong arm, and he flashes really good accuracy. He has good setup quickness, a quick overhand delivery and gets a lot of zip on the ball. When Glennon has a clean pocket, he’s a consistently good decision-maker with accuracy. He can make all the throws and shows he can be accurate both short and deep.
The key here though is a “clean pocket.”
When Glennon faces heavy pressure, especially up the middle, his decision-making ability drops and he can make some poor decisions. The key to having Glennon play well is having a strong offensive line. While the Bears are as strong as any team in the league inside, their tackles have had their share of struggles, as they give up a lot of pressures. What the Bears need to help Glennon is a strong running game and a strong play-action game. That would help limit the pressures.
Why was Glennon on the Bears’ radar? Glennon has more playing experience than any of the other options. While Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo was the fan favorite, he hasn’t been made available by New England, at least at an attainable price. Some reports indicated that the cost to get Garoppolo is two first-round picks, which is ridiculous considering he has only started two games in his three-year NFL career.
Glennon has shown flashes of excellent play. What no one knows is whether he’s improved since his last significant playing time in 2014. When he was a rookie, Glennon played under coach Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator was Mike Sullivan. Under this duo, Glennon looked like he had a bright future. Then Schiano was fired at the end of that 2013 season and Lovie Smith was hired as coach. Jeff Tedford was hired as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator, but he never served in that role in the regular season because he underwent a heart procedure. Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo took over in training camp, but it didn’t work out well. Glennon didn’t develop much, and the offense struggled.
Dirk Koetter became the Bucs offensive coordinator in 2015 and while he had a reputation for doing quality work developing quarterbacks, Glennon received little playing time behind Winston. While Glennon has received practice reps and classroom time, none of us know whether he’s improved.
The fact is this signing is a shot in the dark for the Bears with the hope that Glennon can be a winning NFL quarterback. We won’t know the answer until the season begins in September.
What the Bears need to do to follow up this signing is selected a quarterback in the early rounds of the draft. Since general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox came to Chicago in January 2015, they haven’t drafted a quarterback. It’s imperative that it happens this year. Getting a potential starter in the draft brings about competition and gives the team a fallback option if Glennon doesn’t produce as hoped.
After watching considerable tape of Glennon, I’m still uncertain of what his future holds. I understand the signing and see potential in Glennon to be good, but he could also be awful. There are just that many unanswered questions.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.