By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) I don’t know if rookie Mitchell Trubisky is a starting quarterback in the NFL yet. That’s the Chicago Bears’ fault.
He should be eventually, or else he’ll become arguably the worst draft pick in franchise history and the albatross around general manager Ryan Pace’s neck for the duration of whatever front office or scouting career another team gives him. But until Trubisky gets reps against an actual defense and not players who will be crossing their fingers for practice squad contracts in a few weeks, I don’t know what he is.
What I do know is that Mr. No. 1 On The Depth Chart, Mike Glennon, isn’t good. On Saturday in the Bears’ second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, Glennon didn’t fart out the 0.0 passer rating of the previous week, but there was little to be optimistic about.
“I thought it was a big improvement,” coach John Fox said. “We had a very limited look in Week 1. I thought the whole offense responded, including Mike.”
Technically, Fox isn’t lying, but that’s because Glennon couldn’t be any worse than what he showed against the Denver Broncos. He still threw an interception and had another one dropped by a Cardinals defender, and his touchdown drive came against a group of primarily second-stringers. Glennon finished the night in the desert with a 78.2 passer rating, which for comparison is a few tenths of a tick below Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ 2016 season, and he’s on the edge of losing his job this season.
Meanwhile, Trubisky pumped out a 135.4 passer rating Saturday, but it was again against bums. And that was with a severely suspect offensive line in front of him that could have compromised the future of the organization, as Trubisky took a pounding while holding his own.
“Just trying to keep my eyes up as long as possible and trying to get the ball to receivers before I have to take the sack,” Trubisky said afterward. “Obviously, I wanted to take care of the football, which I did. But I think I can learn from watching film and trying to get the ball out a little faster to help my O-line out and just find the right guy when they are bringing pressure in my face.”
That’s humble rookie-speak for: “My life flashed before my eyes, and it involved thousands of mustachioed heart failures lamenting the career-altering injury ‘Trubinsky’ suffered his rookie year. I would prefer to not dance with the devil again.”
So I at least know that Trubisky can beat NFL bums (with apologies if I offend Packers coach Mike McCarthy) and has thus passed the Glass Joe level of the process.
Until I see him against a higher level of competition, not only do I not know what Trubisky can handle, but I do know that fans and media won’t shut up about what’s obviously lacking in Glennon and the wasting of the rookie.
This is also besides Mark Sanchez pointlessly occupying the No. 2 spot on the depth chart when we and he very much know what he is, and it’s nothing more than a mentor who wants no part of the field if he can help it on the other side of age 30. The snaps Sanchez took at the point in the Cardinals game he did were time wasted that could have benefitted Trubisky and the rest of us.
It’s as though the Bears are afraid to admit their rookie quarterback whom they traded up to draft shortly might be better than the unproven free agent they signed to a lot of money. Fox doing his Fox thing when pressed on Trubisky’s play in relation to competition does help such suspicion.
“People have to understand we practice,” Fox said regarding Trubisky playing with subpar preseason game talent. “We evaluate guys every day. Obviously, we evaluate games too. We get a chance to meet with him every day and to watch him practice every day in a controlled situation. He has responded very well.”
But Fox could evaluate him with and against first- and second-stringers. Perhaps better so.
But instead Glennon is running uber-conservative plays, seemingly as though to not further expose him (he still was), and then Sanchez comes in to eat what remains of respectable competition.
And then Fox, who probably doesn’t want what could be his final season in Chicago to be a growing process with a rookie quarterback, will get all stuttery if the media dare question why Trubisky can’t be allowed to try any of that. And the marching orders at Halas Hall seem to be talking as murky as possible about the situation, leaving me to question what the hell is going on. Meanwhile, Pace seems to acknowledge that what Trubisky is doing is fun as stuff but nothing to gauge properly.
“That’s extremely positive,” Pace said of Trubisky’s preseason opener against the Broncos in which he shined.
Then he added, “There’s some vanilla things happening defensively that I think can aid a young quarterback.”
Maybe mix in a chocolate or strawberry swirl then, which doesn’t even mean starting. Give me a better idea of what Trubisky is right now rather than guessing what he could be based on beating player who will tell their grandkids about that one time they were in a training camp. Especially when there’s no visible distance between him and the two quarterbacks ahead of him taking snaps.
Otherwise the Bears have built and are choosing to live in a situation in which they’re forcing more skepticism from observers that doesn’t have to be. Which won’t stem the preaching of the Gospel of Mitch. And the team has only itself to blame for that.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.