By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — The bar by which Bears quarterback Mike Glennon is measured at Halas Hall is clear — and low.
Come the fourth quarter, are the Bears in position to win? No matter how they reach that point, are they in the lead? Or even just striking distance? That much was relayed from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
On Sunday, the Bears earned a 23-17 overtime victory over the Steelers, with Glennon completing 15 of 22 passes for 101 yards, a touchdown and interception. His afternoon included just one completion to a wide receiver and checkdown after checkdown. In fact, Glennon’s top three most targeted players were all running backs.
Loggains conceded that the Bears won’t win many games throwing for 101 yards. But is there remaining confidence that Glennon can open up the offense with his available targets?
“Mike’s doing exactly what he needs to do to win games,” Loggains responded. “That’s what he has to keep doing. We’re not going to create things. If it’s not there, he’s going to check down, because we got really good guys to check down to. What we talked about with Mike is be as aggressive as you can with the timing of the play. Take care of the football and get us to the fourth quarter.
“A lot of credit to Mike is based on wins and losses, and we won last week.”
Added Glennon: “Whatever it takes to win. Each week is going to be different with what we have to do.”
While rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, is waiting for his opportunity, the Bears (1-2) are standing by Glennon as their best chance at victory. They signed him to a three-year deal worth up to $45 million and just $18.5 million guaranteed, hoping to fight for contention this season.
Through three weeks, Glennon ranks 32nd among quarterbacks with just 8.5 yards per completion. He’s averaging 5.0 yards per attempt. The Bears are more concerned about him simply managing the game.
Midway through the second quarter Sunday, Glennon dialed up the deep ball to Markus Wheaton on a first-down play. The ball was just barely shot past his outstretched hands. For Loggains, it was a designed effort to back off the defense, and he thought it worked. The Steelers allowed the Bears short yardage in the passing game but nothing deep.
Loggains saw the Steelers drop seven men into coverage and force the Bears’ hand with a dink-and-dump game. Glennon threw 12 of his 22 passes to the running back group of Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham. For Loggains, that was simply working with what the defense gave them.
But the week before, the Buccaneers loaded the box and stifled the Bears’ rushing attack of Howard and Cohen. It was the worst game of Howard’s young career, as he rushed nine times for seven yards. Cohen wasn’t the X-factor he has been in the other two games.
The Bears appear to have a promising tandem at running back, but their passing game is unsustainable – even Loggains admitted that. The Bears hope Wheaton can be a deep threat, while Kendall Wright is available for targets as well. Meanwhile, Glennon’s longest completion on the season has gone for 22 yards.
Come Thursday at Lambeau Field, the Packers (2-1) will be ready for the Bears (1-2). They’ve seen the Bears’ best punch on film. Adjustments are needed on offense, because this isn’t sustainable.
For Glennon, the expectation is simple.
“At the end of the day, if we win, that’s really all that matters,” Glennon said. “As quarterbacks, that’s the way we’re judged, is on your wins and losses. Whatever it takes to win, whether we hand the ball off 40 times and throw it 20 or throw it 40 and hand it off 20 – whatever it is, just keep executing my job.”