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Pressure mounting on ex-Buc Mike Glennon as Mitch Trubisky stands out for Bears

Mike Glennon, for the moment the Bears' starting quarterback, passes against the Broncos in Chicago's preseason opener. Tthe former Buc struggled then watched rookie Mitch Trubisky play impressively. [Associated Press]
Mike Glennon, for the moment the Bears' starting quarterback, passes against the Broncos in Chicago's preseason opener. Tthe former Buc struggled then watched rookie Mitch Trubisky play impressively. [Associated Press]
Published Aug. 14, 2017

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — The sample size from the exhibition opener was far too small for the Bears to consider a move with Mike Glennon.

They weren't going to walk away from their starting quarterback after eight pass attempts, nor should they. Reality is Glennon's teammates didn't give him adequate help. The wide receivers didn't do their part, the offensive line didn't play well enough and there wasn't time to establish a ground game.

But the starting quarterback needs to be able to lift the team, make a throw on third down to move the chains when the group is scuffling and make those around him better. The Bears haven't consistently seen that spark from Glennon, who left the Bucs after last season to sign with the Bears, in practice, and he needs to be more accurate because he isn't going to create much for himself with his feet. He needs to perform with more confidence, something that can be infectious in the huddle.

Rookie Mitch Trubisky outperformed Glennon in the two-minute drill during practice Sunday. Yes, Trubisky was working against the second-team defense with Mark Sanchez resting an ankle injury, but he was also working with the second offense.

Glennon hesitated on a back-side throw to Kevin White that Prince Amukamara nearly picked off. Linebacker Christian Jones broke up a pair of throws intended for tight end Zach Miller, one deep down the seam.

Meanwhile, Trubisky had the cool to fire a third-down pass out of bounds to kill the clock and remain alive for fourth down, on which he dropped a perfect throw deep down the sideline to Tanner Gentry, who was well-covered by Cre'Von LeBlanc. On the next snap, Trubisky took the offense near the goal line on a deep connection with tight end Daniel Brown.

Coach John Fox is inventing new ways to talk in circles about his quarterbacks with pressure mounting for Glennon to be good enough to justify bringing Trubisky along slowly. That's what he did when I asked if Trubisky was the better of the two in the two-minute drill Sunday.

"We don't do comparisons," Fox said. "We've just got to evaluate how they did. (Trubisky) did have a successful scoring drive in two-minute. We got down there pretty close with the first unit against the first-unit (defense). But we just continue to evaluate practice, not just games but the whole practice, and he's continuing to get better."

The biggest reason to tap the brakes on the Start Mitch movement is he's yet to experience the breadth of blitzes and pressure packages teams would bring at him on a weekly basis. There's stuff Trubisky hasn't dreamed of seeing after coming from a spread offense in college in which defenses tried not to get beat over the top. There also has to be some level of concern that any quarterback might have a rough ride with the offense in place, especially when the Bears can't crank up the ground game.

Glennon — and the supporting cast around him — will have to be more efficient and productive Saturday at Arizona. If he comes close to posting another goose egg — his passer rating was 0.0 against the Broncos — they're going to have to rethink the master plan at Halas Hall.

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Again, it's not fair to hang all of the struggles against the Broncos on him, but it starts with the quarterback, who has to lift those around him. It sure looked like Trubisky was doing that while playing with the third team against players who are likely to soon be ex-Broncos.

Glennon needs more reps in practice, and he got that Sunday with Sanchez sitting out.

"I wanted to come out and play well," Glennon said of returning to practice after the game. "That's the case every day, but I would say even more so (Saturday) because I was eager to get out there and execute. I thought we did a good job responding early right away and moving the ball on offense."

The exhibitions will be weighted more than practice, but it's all part of the evaluation the Bears are going through. They don't want to rush Trubisky into action, which has proved to wreck elite prospects who aren't ready and can't learn fast enough to overcome their inexperience.

"We're excited about him, so I imagine that people on the outside are excited," Fox said.

For the Bears to remain excited about their plan for Glennon, he needs to give them reason for optimism before the third exhibition Aug. 27 at Tennessee. They need a sense of stability for what amounts to a dress rehearsal for the Sept. 10 opener against the Falcons, then Chicago faces the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium in Week 2.

"I mean, it's bigger than the first but not as big as the third," Glennon said of Saturday's Cardinals game. "I don't really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well, but I don't want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game."

It's good he knows pressure is mounting. He'll have to embrace it and respond accordingly, or we will see his opportunity slip away.


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