On April 27, 2017, the Bears made a franchise-altering move by choosing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky out of the University of North Carolina with the second overall pick. However, Trubisky’s inexperience, having only played one full season at the collegiate level, makes many believe that free agent signing, QB Mike Glennon, should have the starting spot in 2017.
Glennon’s play was pedestrian during his starts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2013-2014. Accordingly, he was ousted in 2014 in favor of Josh McCown and hasn’t started since then due to Jameis Winston‘s arrival. However, the Bears saw potential in him, and inked him this offseason. As our lead Bears writer, Nick Petrusevski has stated in the past, Glennon’s signing was a low-risk, high-reward move, since general manager Ryan Pace and the Bears aren’t expecting Glennon to be their franchise quarterback, but there is a slight chance he becomes one.
After all, Glennon’s 30/15 touchdown-to-interception ratio is reason for optimism, and his accuracy is acceptable at 59.4%. By comparison, the Bucs’ quarterback of the future, Winston, has posted a 59.6% completion rate. Additionally, Glennon is relatively young at age 27, and so there are multiple reasons to believe he has franchise quarterback potential.
On the flip side, there is a reason the Bears see Glennon as a bridge quarterback. That reason is Trubisky. Although most everyone expected the Bears to draft a quarterback this year or next year to become their future starter, not many thought it would happen immediately in the first round of 2017’s draft. Drama was permeating the Philadelphia air that night, as the Bears traded multiple mid-round draft picks and their third overall selection to move up to number two. Shockingly, it was Trubisky who the Bears valued so much that they traded up for.
Trubisky’s 2016 season with the Tar Heels was very impressive. Denied the starting job for two years behind QB Marquis Williams, he finally proved his worth in his junior season. Though it was against inferior college defenses, Trubisky bested almost all of Glennon’s numbers. In 2016, his accuracy was an eye-popping 68%, and his TD/INT ratio was also stellar: 30 scores to just six picks.
I’ve focused mainly on the positives of both quarterbacks, but it’s time to take a closer look at their downfalls.
Glennon’s main fault is that he has very limited mobility. Unlike Trubisky, Glennon will hardly ever scramble and take off, which limits him to being just a pocket passer. Furthermore, Glennon has barely played since his final contest in 2014, and will need some time to adjust to the grind and difficulty of weekly games against NFL defenses. And let’s face it, his accuracy and TD/INT are fine, but they’re nothing compared to an elite quarterback.
As for Trubisky, inexperience is, again, a huge consideration, but there are other areas that need to be improved. Trubisky took the majority of his snaps out of the shotgun, and will need to learn and adjust to an increased number of under center formations. In addition, his accuracy on deep passes is shaky. Scouts have also noted that Trubisky will suffer if he doesn’t improve at responding smartly and quickly to blitzes.
So, this begs the question: who deserves the starting spot in Chicago in 2017?
Popular opinion has it that Glennon will be given the nod. I tend to agree, but I could see Trubisky taking over somewhere down the road this year. Others feel like Trubisky shouldn’t see any playing time in 2017, but this is unjustified.
For at least the first few games, Glennon has earned the right to start under center. He’s older, more experienced, and knows what it’s like to be in an NFL contest. Although he isn’t very fresh when it comes to those contests, he fared well in garbage time last year and knows what it’s like to face an NFL defense.
Trubisky, on the other hand, struggled a bit against the better defensive teams. Facing Georgia, the best defensive team they battled in 2016, Trubisky was 24-40 in pass attempts, but threw extremely conservatively and was held to a minuscule 3.9 yards per catch and zero touchdowns. If he wants to succeed at the professional level, he better be comfortable passing longer against quality defenses.
Preseason games should be very instructive and helpful to Trubisky. He’ll get time against those defenses under his belt, and will put into action the plays he’s learned at training camp. It will also give him a chance to develop chemistry with the wide receiver core. Considering the lack of implications of a preseason game, John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains should allow Trubisky to air it out and start to feel comfortable throwing deeper against good defenses, like he wasn’t against Georgia.
Still, I don’t see why the Bears would refuse to consider Trubisky for playing time later in the campaign. If there’s some unwritten rule that you can’t start your inexperienced rookie even after a preseason and a few games, then the Bears need to break that rule. The Seahawks did it even earlier with Russell Wilson and he proved to make an immediate positive impact on that team in 2012.
The Bears aren’t staking anything on this 2017 season. If Glennon is playing at a sub-par level, why not try out Trubisky? Let him test the water and get that first, nerve-filled game out of the way. There’s no better way to continue to work on your flaws than sorting them out in a real game. You drafted him because you saw immense value in him, and at some point you have to cash in on that value.
I’m not saying the Bears have to play Trubisky in 2017. If Glennon is passing the ball well and managing to win some games, then keep him in there. But if he isn’t doing his job, he needs to be replaced. Both quarterbacks are viable options, and in 2017, when the Bears don’t expect to compete, is a perfect time to test out your options. First start the more secure option, Glennon, but the Bears should not hesitate to start developing the high-potential option, Trubisky.