By Chris Emma–
(CBS) The spotlight was waiting for Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky the second he stepped onto the practice field in Lake Forest.
All eyes were on the future of the Bears franchise, the No. 2 overall selection in the NFL Draft in April, with dozens of cameras on site. It was the type of media presence that only arrives at Halas Hall when somebody gets fired. Now, the questions have followed with wonders to when Trubisky will step foot on an NFL field.
Through it all, Mike Glennon has quietly gone about his business in preparing for this 2017 season — his season. He has worked to build relationships off the field and connections on it. Glennon has done everything the right way since arriving in Chicago on a three-year, $45-million deal, with $18.5 million and nothing more guaranteed.
So, while Trubisky will continue to be a topic of conversation for the Bears, it’s worth wondering the forgotten question in Chicago — what if Glennon is a good quarterback?
Not much is known about the 27-year-old Glennon, who has just 18 NFL starts to his name. He has a 5-13 record as a starter and has thrown 30 touchdowns to 15 interceptions in 21 career games, often with a poor supporting cast in Tampa Bay.
Glennon’s struggles arose in part because he played behind an offensive line that ranked among the league’s worst his two seasons as a starter. In 2013, Glennon was sacked 40 times — on 8.8 percent of his dropbacks. When the pressure came, he either went down or was forced into giving away the play. The 6-foot-7 Glennon doesn’t have the ability to escape.
Glennon should benefit from an offensive line with some talent in Chicago — specifically the interior of Kyle Long, Cody Whitehair and Josh Sitton. Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Bears as having the fifth-best offensive line in the NFL. Time in the pocket will benefit Glennon and allow him to be comfortable.
Staying upright is the first step for Glennon, but who will he target? The Bears are still sorting through their options at receiver, a group that includes Kevin White, Cameron Meredith, Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton and Victor Cruz. During camp, Glennon must establish a rapport with his receivers and move into the regular season with that comfort.
Once Glennon is comfortable in the pocket and knows where to throw the ball, what can be expected of his numbers?
It would be a stretch to expect gaudy statistics from Glennon in his first season leading the Bears. The offense is more likely to run through running back Jordan Howard and ask Glennon to mitigate damage. Should that strategy work, the role of Glennon as a game manager would be considered a success if the Bears are winning.
At the least, Glennon has shown an ability to take care of the football and avoid major mistakes. He carries an interception rate of 2.4 percent. That will be a key for the Bears after growing tired of Jay Cutler’s costly turnovers.
Ultimately, Glennon will be truly judged by how the Bears perform around him. Coach John Fox has stated that one of the greatest characteristics he seeks from a quarterback is the ability to lead. Glennon could either be thriving as an NFL starter or buying the Bears time for Trubisky.
The Bears would love nothing more than to face that fortunate question about the 2018 quarterback situation — pressed with a present success against the future of the franchise. Glennon will get his opportunity to remain as the starting quarterback in Chicago beyond 2017, but he must win to earn that place.
Otherwise, the spotlight will be right back on Trubisky.