By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – With cameras and microphones gathered before him and this new opportunity ahead, Bears quarterback Mike Glennon could look from the corner of his eye to the far practice field in the distance.
There was rookie Mitchell Trubisky throwing pass after pass on the cleared field, with a group of curious observers that included general manager Ryan Pace, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, who was visiting Halas Hall that day in late August.
Glennon, 27, signed a three-year deal with the Bears last March after the team expressed its belief in him. He was run out of a starting job in Tampa after the Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston with the top pick in 2015 and spent last season holding a clipboard. Glennon was told he would lead the Bears this season and had hopes for beyond. But that was before Trubisky proved he was ready.
Now, the only shot Glennon has at sustaining the starting job is his own best performance. It starts Sunday at Soldier Field against the Falcons.
“We like Mike Glennon,” Pace said this week.
“He’s a very smart, intelligent player. There’s a lot that went into that evaluation. He has a lot of experience that we’re leaning on. He was voted a captain for a reason by that locker room. We’re ready to watch it unfold.”
Most of Chicago is waiting for Mitch-a-palooza to begin. Then there’s Glennon, who’s preparing for an opportunity with only that $18.5 guaranteed – nothing more than that. Glennon was invited as the guest of honor at the Bears’ draft party and watched with fans as Trubisky was selected second overall.
By deeming Trubisky capable of playing, the Bears started the clock on Glennon.
Glennon was told he would lead the Bears this season. Now he has Trubisky breathing down his neck while segments of the fan base root for his failure to accelerate the franchise’s movement into the future.
Meanwhile, for all the noise that comes with the territory, Glennon has to prepare for his first start as Bears quarterback.
“Mike has done an incredible job of handling this,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said.
Ever since his arrival with the Bears in March, Glennon has left no stone unturned in establishing himself as the team’s starter. He has taken teammates to a Bulls game, a Jason Aldean concert and even a trip down to Florida for workouts and relaxation.
This is the opportunity Glennon had hoped would come after losing out in Tampa. Second chances as the hand-picked starting quarterback for Week 1 are rare in this league.
Teammates recognized Glennon as a leader, voting him as a captain for this season. Young Bears players are looking to Glennon.
“It says a lot about him,” rookie running back Tarik Cohen said. “A very hard-working person, dedicated to this team. He’s not just worried about himself; he’s looking to lead us as a whole unit.”
Added Glennon of the honor: “I was definitely proud of that. … It’s not something I take lightly.”
Support from his teammates will be helpful to Glennon, because he’s about to become the most scrutinized Bears quarterback since … well, Jay Cutler.
With each miscue, sections of Soldier Field will be calling for Trubisky. Losses will fall on the quarterback, all while the franchise’s future waits for his chance. By promoting Trubisky to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, the Bears made the proclamation that the rookie is ready for NFL action.
Yet Glennon remains undeterred as he looks ahead to this new opportunity. This week has been easier to tune out the noise with a game plan to study.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Glennon said.
While there remain many unknowns to Glennon as a quarterback, the professionalism he brings to the table can’t be questioned. He has handled a unique situation with grace and earned the respect of his teammates along the way.
Glennon could be just what the Bears hope – the untapped potential Pace believed leading this team to victories and contention in 2017. That would at least slow the marches in the Trubisky parade for the time being. But he could also force the Bears’ hand with struggles that bring the promising Trubisky onto the field.
For all the noise, Glennon will finally get his own say.