By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – It would be a lie if Bears quarterback Mike Glennon said Sunday’s game didn’t mean more to him.
After all, Glennon is about to lead his Bears down to Tampa and face a Buccaneers team that drafted Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in 2015 to ultimately replace him. Their belief in Glennon wasn’t strong enough. So when the time to walk came, he found a team in Chicago that believed he deserves to be a starter.
Glennon has the chance to beat his former team Sunday afternoon, and he wasn’t going to hold back the truth about this matchup.
“Obviously, it counts the same, but it’s against the place I was for the last four years,” Glennon said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “A lot of friends, familiar faces on the other side. So I think it’s human nature to be looking forward to this a little bit more, just because I’m going against my former team.”
The Bears signed Glennon to a three-year deal worth $45 million this offseason, with $18.5 million guaranteed. They paid him starter’s money to lead this season. Glennon had played in just 21 games with the Buccaneers from 2013-’16, making 18 starts in that time. He lost his job midway through the 2014 season and played in just two games after that before signing with Chicago.
Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans developed a good rapport with Glennon on the field. He caught his first touchdown from Glennon and had his first 100-yard receiving game with Glennon. But that respect increased when he saw how Glennon handled his demotion to the backup role behind Winston.
“He did awesome,” Evans said Wednesday on a teleconference. “He helped Jameis a lot. He was always ready to play if something unfortunate happened to Jameis. He was a real pro. We all knew his time was coming. He’s too good of a player to be on the bench.”
Opportunity came knocking with the Bears. General manager Ryan Pace carried a belief in Glennon that stemmed from the pre-draft process in 2013 and increased as he watched from the Saints’ personnel department. When the Bears looked for a starter in free agency, Glennon became their primary option.
The Bears have cited Glennon’s experience from Tampa, which refers to his time learning as the backup in addition to leading as the starter. Now game-planning for the Buccaneers, the Bears can turn to Glennon for some clarity. Given that Tampa Bay had its opener postponed due to Hurricane Irma, Chicago’s preparation will focus on scouting 2016 and portions of the preseason.
“A lot of things look familiar, but they haven’t played a game yet,” Glennon said. “So I’m prepared for anything.
“I’m going to help in ways that I can, but I don’t have all the answers.”
Added Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains: “He’s definitely been able to bring some insight and detail to the game plan.”
In his Bears debut, Glennon put his team in position to win in the waning seconds against the Falcons, but Chicago couldn’t cash in with four goal-to-go opportunities from the five-yard line. Loggains spoke highly of how Glennon managed the game, referencing his ability to execute the game plan and protect the football.
That’s ultimately the task of Glennon, especially with few resources available at receiver. The Bears are counting on him to minimize mistakes and bring them an opportunity to win the game. He doesn’t have to out-play Winston on Sunday to win. Glennon simply has to manage the offense well enough to where the Bears have a chance.
With a familiar foe ahead, that’s good enough for Glennon.
“It doesn’t really come down to showing them anything,” he said. “I just want to have a winning performance and help our team get back to 1-1.”