By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) Every football season, a team faces a crossroads in which important decisions have to be made about how the rest of the season will be played. That’s where the 2017 Bears are — at a crossroads, a change that needs to be made staring them in the eyes.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace made a decision last April to sign Bucs backup quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year contract to be Chicago’s starting quarterback. Less than two months later, Pace moved up one spot in the draft to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky at No. 2 overall. When that move was made, it was apparent that Glennon was strictly a bridge quarterback for the Bears until Trubisky was ready.
The hope within the organization was that Glennon could offer the Bears good quarterback play for the 2017 season before turning the reins over to Trubisky in 2018. After four preseason games and four regular-season games that have resulted in the Bears sitting at 1-3, it’s apparent that Glennon isn’t a starting NFL quarterback. The reality is he isn’t even a good backup quarterback, because he has never shown that he can give the team a chance to win.
If Bears management and the coaching staff didn’t clearly see that in Green Bay on Thursday night, there’s not much hope for the rest of the season. The play of Glennon put the Bears in a hole that they were never going to get out of. Before the game was a quarter old, the Bears were down 14-0, and shortly in to the second quarter, the score was 21-0, mostly because of the miscues of Glennon, who committed four turnovers.
Glennon was sacked and fumbled on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage after holding onto the ball for quite some time, putting the Packers in prime position to score. He later had another fumble recovered by the Packers as the Bears were driving and also threw two interceptions. Those four turnovers were on Glennon and no one else. No team in the NFL can win when one player puts them in that kind of hole.
Not only were the turnovers bad, but his accuracy and ball placement were also well below average. Glennon almost never puts the ball in a place where the receiver can make a play after the catch. Sometimes he gets the receiver clobbered by defenders because the ball was thrown so poorly. This can’t happen in the NFL.
The Bears now have 10 days before their next game, against the Vikings on Oct. 9 on Monday Night Football. That gives the coaching staff plenty of time to prepare Trubisky to take over as the starting quarterback. Not only should the Bears make Trubisky the starter, but Mark Sanchez should be promoted to the backup quarterback position. Glennon should never play another down for the Bears this season. It’s obvious his teammates have no confidence in his play.
Installing Trubisky as the starter doesn’t mean the Bears will start reeling off wins. It does mean that they acknowledged that signing Glennon was a mistake and that Trubisky is taking over to do what he was drafted to do — become the franchise quarterback of this team. Trubisky will make rookie mistakes and commit turnovers, but there’s no way his play will be as inept as Glennon’s.
No one ever questioned Trubisky’s talent last year at North Carolina. He proved to be extremely accurate and a good decision-maker. He also showed that with his athleticism, he could make and extend plays with his feet. In the preseason this year, he clearly outplayed early expectations and showed strong leadership skills. In short, he showed that he was ready to lead this team.
The Bears are “going to look at everything” regarding the overall play of the team, Bears coach John Fox said late Thursday. Without saying so, he clearly meant the quarterback position. People say that the Bears receiver corps is the worst in the NFL. How do we really know that when the individual playing quarterback since the opening day of camp in late July could never find an open receiver in stride?
What we do know is that the Bears offense will change with Trubisky at the helm. He will give the Bears the type of player they haven’t had in recent memory. His speed and athletic ability will allow the Bears to scheme on offense in a way they haven’t done before.
We may see some run/pass option plays as well as zone-option plays. There will be more boots and rollouts, allowing Trubisky to throw and create on the run. At least for a few games, this will give the Bears an advantage over their opponents as far as game planning. The Bears’ next few opponents won’t know what to expect from their offense. While it may not translate to more wins, it will mean more exciting play and without doubt more enthusiastic play on both sides of the ball.
This Bears team isn’t as bad as many believe. It has been the quarterback play that has held them back. A new man under center will give this team a new life, and I have no doubt that even with Trubisky being a rookie, we will see better play and more wins in 2017.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.