It’s been a very long, arduous and torturous first quarter of the 2017 NFL season for the Chicago Bears and its fans.
Despite one of the best run games in the league, a solid offensive line, and a talented defense, the Bears find themselves at 1-3 following two disastrous performances and two so-so performances from anointed starting quarterback Mike Glennon.
Last Thursday night’s thrashing at the hands of rivals Green Bay was finally enough. Four games, twelve quarters, and 11 turnovers later, the Mike Glennon Era has come to an end in Chicago.
But more importantly, the Mitchell Trubisky Era has officially begun.
The Bears have named Trubisky their starter for Monday night’s home game against the Minnesota Vikings, which not only throws Trubisky right into the fire but gives him an extra day to prepare.
The Bears have been handling Trubisky with kid gloves since they drafted him second overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. And can you blame them? This is an organization that hasn’t had a true franchise quarterback since Sid Luckman in the 1940s.
Trubisky clearly outplayed Glennon in training camp and the preseason. Sure, Trubisky was going against 2’s and 3’s. But there’s no denying that Trubisky excelled, didn’t appeared rattled, and flashed those beautiful intangibles that make him a viable threat and the best quarterback on the Bears.
So why wasn’t Trubisky named starter?
Trubisky was never going to be named starter to open the season. Even if his near perfect preseason became perfect, the Bears were going to trot out their $18 million man. Because of money. But also because of fear. Fear that throwing Trubisky out there too soon might “ruin him.”
But I’ll say this, if you’re afraid that this guy’s psyche will be “ruined” by throwing him into the game where he’s going to make mistakes, then you drafted the wrong guy. Not that I think that’s what’ll happen with Trubisky. If anything, I think Trubisky will excel at overcoming the adversity thrown his way, ala the Tennessee Titans preseason game.
No rookie quarterback is ever truly ready for his first start. The only way you get ready is to go out there and play. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. But you’ll also learn from those mistakes moving forward. Luckily, no one ever judged a rookie quarterback by his first start. Or his first season.
But after Glennon did everything he could to give away his job, the Bears were forced to do something they didn’t want to do until later in the season: play their prized rookie quarterback.
Bears GM Ryan Pace has been adamant since drafting Trubisky that he wanted his rookie to sit and learn in his first season. He felt it would benefit him. And while it certainly would, things changed once Trubisky played in the preseason as he showed his coaches, his team, and fans that he had progresses further than they could’ve imagined in such a short time. That was one of the reasons he was promoted to QB2 at the beginning of the season. Always a play away from being the starter.
Which leads us to here. Week 5. Monday Night Football. Mitchell Trubisky preparing for his first NFL start. Bears brass, coaches, players, and fans hoping that this is the moment we’ll look back on fondly. As the moment our franchise quarterback started his first game for the team we all hope he leads to the Promised Land.
But, let’s be realistic here. Trubisky is a rookie. So here’s what you shouldn’t and should expect when Trubisky takes the field this season:
Here’s what you shouldn’t expect…
Perfection. No NFL player is perfect. Especially rookies. And while Trubisky certainly resembled near-perfect in his preseason stint, no one — including this coaching staff — is expecting him to go out there and not make mistakes. They’re certainly not expecting him to be perfect. Hell, even Trubisky isn’t expecting himself to be perfect. While Trubisky should flash those intangibles we witnessed in the preseason, he should also flash those rookie moments that will ultimately serve as learning experiences that will further his career.
Instant success. While it would be nice to envision Trubisky rolling into this Bears offense and leading them to the playoffs, that’s not realistic nor likely. This wasn’t a playoff football team before Trubisky took over this offense, and it won’t be a playoff team now that he takes over this offense. While a quarterback change should immensely better this football, it’s not enough to affect change in the other phases of this team. Just look at Goff’s rookie season, where he went 0-7 and the Rams finished 4-12. Now look at season two, where a new head coach has helped Goff lead the Rams to a 3-1 start to the season. If Trubisky is the man in Chicago, there will no doubt be success. But it won’t be immediate. It’ll come with time. But it’ll come.
This receiving corp. to suddenly become elite. While Trubisky’s involvement with this offense should certainly make a less-than-stellar receiving corp. look better than they did under the immobile Glennon, don’t expect these receivers to suddenly become Pro Bowlers. While Glennon was terrible in his brief stint, he certainly didn’t get any help from his receivers. After Cameron Meredith went down with a torn ACL in the preseason and Kevin White followed in the season opener, the Bears already unimpressive receivers group became, well, troublesome. The name of the game for the Bears’ receivers this season has been dropped passes, which has them near the top of the league in dropped passes. You can’t have that. Perhaps one advantage Trubisky brings with him is that he has experience working with receivers like Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson in the preseason and training camp more than, say, Kendall Wright and Marcus Wheaton. There’s also one of Trubisky’s buds waiting in the wings on the practice squad in Tanner Gentry. Not to mention, Trubisky’s strong arm, impressive accuracy, and ability to throw downfield should ultimately open up the downfield pass game that has been closed since the season opener.
As for what you can expect…
Growing pains. No rookie quarterback is perfect. Even a rookie quarterback that was near flawless in the preseason. We’ve seen it over the years with quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Jared Goff. We’ve see it most recently this year with Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer. These quarterbacks are going to make mistakes. That’s ultimately how they’re going to learn. Look at Goff, who last season people were calling a “bust” after a brutal seven-game showing in which he went 0-7. Flash forward to 2017, where he has a new offensive mind in head coach Sean McVay. Don’t be ready to jump on him for his inevitable first turnover. Or the next four. Be prepared for him to look like a rookie, unlike what he looked like in preseason. This entire season will serve as a learning experience for Trubisky as he becomes accustomed to the speed and intensity of the NFL game. He could catch on quickly, ala Watson. Or not so quickly, ala Kizer. But don’t start throwing around the word “bust” until we see the growth between season one and season two.
A spark for the entire team. There’s no doubt that Trubisky taking over the reigns of this Bears offense will provide a spark not just for this offense but for the entire team. Look no further than the preseason opener, where Akiem Hicks was gushing about Trubisky’s impressive performance. You could hear it and see it from these players even in the preseason. Just imagine how that translates over into this regular season. This is exactly what this battered team and fanbase needed after a 1-3 start and two blowouts on the road. It needed a spark. It needed hope. Trubisky is that spark. Trubisky is that hope. Even if that doesn’t ultimately prove to be the case in the long run (though I expect it to), right now it proves true.
A different offense. Perhaps one of the most noticeable things you can expect to see from Trubisky’s insertion into this offense is to see the entire dynamic of the offense to change. The Bears are still a run-first team. They always have been and always will be. But Trubisky opens up this offense in a way that Glennon never did and never was capable of doing. Expect a downfield threat that was never there. Expect a moving pocket, rollouts, and bootlegs. Expect the passing game to open up an already dominant run game. Expect these receivers to look less terrible than they did under Glennon. Expect Trubisky to extend plays with his mobility. Expect Trubisky to create plays with his mobility, vision, and accuracy. Expect offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to open up the playbook in a way he wasn’t able to until now. Expect a different, better offense.
With Trubisky finally getting the keys to this offense, the Bears have finally acknowledged that they’re looking toward the future. More than that, they’re finally putting their foot down when it comes to accepting mediocrity as a norm for this organization.
Let the Mitchell Trubisky Era commence…