The Chicago Bears want to pretend there’s no quarterback controversy. But rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s impressive performance says otherwise. (Photo: NFL)
When it comes to quarterbacks in Chicago, there’s about as much stability at the position in the past few decades as there is stability in the White House.
Since their only Super Bowl win in 1985, the Chicago Bears have had about 35 different starting quarterbacks most of whom fizzled out or just straight up disappointed. Names that include Cade McNown, Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, and Kordell Stewart. A long list of disappointment and hopeful franchise quarterbacks that amounted to nothing short of frustration and failure.
When Jay Cutler (Chicago’s statistical best quarterback since Sid Luckman in the 1940s) and the Bears parted ways after eight seasons, the Bears were left with a gap in the quarterback position. So they went out and signed Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon as a weigh station between them and a franchise quarterback.
In April, the Bears shocked the football nation by trading up one spot to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. It was a decision that General Manager Ryan Pace was crucified for.
Why trade up one position…for Trubisky?
The thing is, that’s what you do when you’ve found the guy that you believe will be your quarterback of the future. And also the guy that you believe will save your job.
There’s been a lot of discussion about when should rookie quarterbacks start. Should they sit for a year or start right away? There’s no definitive answer as to which is more beneficial as there are plenty of examples of both instances. But with Chicago in desperate need of their Tom Brady, there’s caution being used in how they’re handling Trubisky.
When Glennon signed with the Bears, he was promised the starting job. This was a guy coming from Tampa that found himself a permanent job as QB2 when the Buccaneers drafted Jameis Winston. So when the Bears went out and drafted Trubisky, it’s hard not to imagine Glennon sitting there thinking, “Not again.”
Any thoughts of a quarterback controversy were squashed as Coach John Fox made it loud and clear that Glennon would be the starting quarterback.
But then the Bears’ first preseason game happened. And everything changed.
Despite a rocky training camp as the rookie quarterback worked to get acclimated to the NFL, Trubisky put on a show in the Aug. 10 contest against the Denver Broncos. The Bears brought Trubisky in before halftime where he perfectly executed a two-minute drill that resulted in a Trubisky touchdown pass to Victor Cruz, the Bears’ first points of the game.
When the second half kicked off, Trubisky continued to showcase all of the intangibles that showed fans exactly why Pace was so high on this kid. He showed incredible poise, accuracy, mobility, decision making, command, and he made plays when he needed to help the Bears offense score points and put his team in a position to win.
Sure, he was playing against 2’s and 3’s. But he was also playing with 2’s and 3’s. And when it comes down to it, he did what he needed to do against the competition that he was going up against. And that’s all you can ask of your quarterback.
It surely didn’t help matters that by contrast the Bears’ anointed starter Mike Glennon stunk up the joint completing 2 of 8 passes for 20 yards, an interception, and a 0.0 rating.
In the nine days that followed the first exhibition game, Mitchapalooza was in full effect. Fans and sportswriters and ex-Bears alike were clamoring for Trubisky to get a shot at the starting job. If Trubisky is the best quarterback on the team, then why run away from that?
Pride. Or something like that. The Bears paid Glennon $18 million to be their starter, and already we’re starting to see that this experiment is failing. It was never really an experiment so much as it was a pit stop on the way to bringing in a young quarterback to be the answer for this franchise.
I can’t remember the last time there was as much anticipation for a preseason game than there was for Saturday’s second exhibition game against the Arizona Cardinals. Fans were clamoring for another look at our anointed savior and hoping more than anything that we saw that last week wasn’t a fluke.
It wasn’t a fluke.
Sure, Trubisky didn’t look as invincible as he did in the Broncos game, but that was to be expected. The Cardinals defense roughed him up — in the short amount of time that he saw action — but despite making the typical rookie mistakes, Trubisky remained poised, led his team to points, and once again outplayed Glennon.
On the bright side, Glennon wasn’t as terrible as he was against the Broncos. But he still wasn’t good.
At what point does John Fox acknowledge that Trubisky is the best option at quarterback?
Trubisky has done enough in two preseason games to earn a start in the Bears’ third exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. We’ve seen what he’s been able to do with limited talent and in limited action with the 2’s and 3’s, which has been impressive. But now it’s time to see what he can do when playing with the 1’s against the 1’s.
Not that I’m overly confident that Fox will make that decision. If we’ve learned anything, Fox looks like he wants to hide his shining rookie quarterback behind garbage time action and keep hoping that fans, and maybe his team, don’t see that Trubisky is clearly the best quarterback on this team. And maybe somehow they’ll embrace Glennon as their starter. Maybe somehow they’ll be able to pretend that there isn’t a quarterback controversy in Chicago.
Hey, Foxy, it’s not working.
The fan base and the media continue to clamor for a proper quarterback competition that’ll speak for itself. It’s Fox’s job as head coach to make sure the best players are out on the field. If Trubisky is the best quarterback, which he’s shown so far, and he’s ready to start, then why stall his development? You’re only hurting this team.
The Bears fan base hasn’t had much to be excited about over the past few years. The Bears haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. Their defense was very uncharacteristic of a Bears defense. Things got rocky with Jay Cutler. Injuries obliterated them in 2016. This wasn’t what you expect from an organization that has prided itself on winning.
But in just two preseason games, Trubisky brought hope to a fan base that hasn’t had much positive to focus on in the past few years. It didn’t matter that it was a preseason game. It didn’t matter that it was just one game. All that mattered was that there was a shining beacon of hope.
It’s no guarantee Trubisky will work out. It’s no guarantee that he’ll lead the Bears to a Super Bowl. There’s no guarantee that the Bears will find their Tom Brady in Mitchell Trubisky. But right now, there’s hope that all of those things are possible and so much more. And that’s important.