By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Did you wake up three times in the middle of your sleep clutching your knee after having nightmares that you were Bears receiver Cameron Meredith having a limb bent like a celery stick? No? Just me?
Meredith tore his ACL in the Bears’ very important preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. If he’s lucky, he’ll only miss this season without lingering effects on his feel-good story of a career. To be more fatalistic, missing this season might be anyone’s blessing, because this team kind of sucks. That might include rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
The drafting and early returns on Trubisky are all certainly exciting, as the commencement of what should be a franchise quarterback always is. But he’s not the Bears’ starter for Week 1. There was never much chance he was ever going to be, as general manager Ryan Pace would prefer that the kid he’s hitched his job to study the job from the sideline for a while rather than get thrown into what promises to be the football equivalent of any of the 16 fun years of a current war in Afghanistan. And coach John Fox ain’t about that rookie quarterback life either.
Trubisky at times looked more pedestrian Sunday against actual football players instead of the guys who will be added to high school coaching staffs quite soon that he saw in the first two preseason games. He had a bad throw that was dropped by a defensive back, and there were some other very rookie moments. Still, he finished his Sunday 10-of-15 for 128 yards and no interceptions with a touchdown pass to Tanner Gentry that moistened many a meatball fan excited for the undrafted receiver’s chance of making the team now that Meredith is gone. Trubisky’s passer rating for the day was again impressive at 115.4.
But the player who started the game, Mike Glennon, also had a rating in the triple digits after showing he’s more than a Toys R Us mascot in a crucial game amid nobody in Chicago outside of his coaching staff having any faith in him. He manufactured a nice touchdown drive and threw no picks.
“I thought he balled out today,” Trubisky said of Glennon, “which is awesome to see.”
Glennon was kind of the player the Bears signed in the offseason to bridge a rebuilding year. Which is important to remain conscious of — this year of Bears football will be bad. There’s a dearth of talent on this roster, justifying the predictions of most that this team will be one of the five or so worst in the NFL. Which would mean, hey, more high draft picks to build around Trubisky for the future instead of six or seven middling wins that don’t help your franchise going forward.
It’s also a team that is banged up very early. Kyle Long still hasn’t played and is sketchy for Week 1. Besides the Meredith tragedy, the Bears also suffered injuries to cornerback Prince Amukamara (ankle), linebacker Leonard Floyd (foot), linebacker Dan Skuta (concussion, anonymity) and long snapper Patrick Scales, whose knee injury Fox described as “serious.” For a team that will punt a lot and stall in the red zone, a long snapper is a bit important.
And now I’m not so sure I want Mitchapalooza to begin in such a situation as the Bears are at present. The offense just lost its best weapon besides Jordan Howard, and Pace can’t replace Meredith with anything decent short of trading a first-round pick for someone like Jarvis Landry, and Trubisky shouldn’t be left figuring out trying to make Kevin White some semblance of a first-round pick.
I selfishly want the excitement that Trubisky brings, but the better half of my brain presumes excitement will quickly sour when a rookie is asked to lead a team that’s outmatched in most facets. Coming to terms with what this product is, I’ll deal with waiting a little longer on the franchise quarterback.
Glennon was competent, and that’s all he needs to be in a season of no real accomplishment.
Without Meredith and a subpar roster that will only further accumulate injuries as bad teams are wont to do, let Glennon fight the good futile fight — at least for a few games until he definitively shows he can’t lead a team to even mediocre play. Make the patchwork offensive line and more two-tight end sets and defenses stacking against Howard his problem. Trubisky can’t develop under that.
Glennon can be the face, a very smotherable face, of a season we’ll soon want to be over as quickly as possible. And that’s OK. Because Trubisky will be around when it’s time to be better.
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.