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Chicago Bears: Despite win, it’s time to start Mitchell Trubisky

Listen, I know that the Chicago Bears won on Sunday. I know that beating a team the calibre of the six-time World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers is something to celebrate. I know that Mike Glennon, officially, led that charge to drive down the field and score in overtime. I know. Despite all of that knowledge, though, it’s hard to argue the case for Glennon continuing to be under center for the Chicago Bears. Prior to this game, Mike Glennon had not won a game since his rookie season in 2013; even considering that his former team was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that’s a poor showing for someone considered to be (not to mention paid to be) the saviour of the franchise. 

O Captain! My Captain!

The Bears brass and players alike saw promise in Glennon, even voting him a team captain during the preseason. Bold move for an unproven entity. Despite my misgivings, though, he is still a captain and so deserves all of the respect and regard of that rank. This is why I shall henceforth be referring to Mike Glennon by his official title, Captain Checkdown.

Through the first three games of the season, Glennon has truly earned his stripes. To date, Captain Checkdown has completed 72 of his 107 attempted passes; that’s 67% of passes reaching the hands of eligible receivers. To compare, Patriots QB Tom Brady is 71 of 110 (65%). On paper, that makes Glennon sound incredible but when you add in the reality that Brady’s average yards per completion is 15.3 it tells a very different story, juxtaposed with the Captain’s 8.5 yards per completion. It might be unfair to compare Mike Glennon to, arguably, the greatest QB in the game today but considering they will earn the same $14 million in 2017, it’s difficult not to. What makes the comparison fair, though, is that Brady has the same mediocre calibre of wide receiver as Glennon at his disposal but where Brady will opt for the most viable of targets, Glennon will target the short, safe route almost every time. During Sunday’s victory, Captain Checkdown targeted running backs 13 times, tight ends 4 times and wide receivers 4 times. To “Cap.” it off, not a single wide receiver was targeted in the first half. An NFL team cannot function this way. Captain Checkdown does as little as he possibly can to exit the game with a W. It’s no wonder Jordan Howard is hurt so frequently; he has to carry his quarterback for whole games, in addition to the football.

Need to watch the tape

There was certainly enough evidence to bench Mike Glennon following back-to-back losses against Atlanta and Tampa Bay, respectively, in weeks 1 & 2. Following the 29-7 trudging to the Buccaneers, Head Coach John Fox stated that he didn’t “think anybody without even seeing the tape yet can pin that on the quarterback. Everybody had their hand in that.” While it’s true that the rest of the Chicago Bears team played their part in throwing the game away, the starting quarterback, who by any definition of the position is the leader of the team, played the biggest part in not getting it done on the field. Granted, Fox made these comments before going back and analysing the play of his signal-caller but in the days, now weeks, subsequent he will have had opportunity to immerse himself in the performance, so why even now does John Fox believe that Captain Checkdown is the answer for the Bears?

In the two main opportunities to score during the Tampa Bay game, Glennon threw easy, avoidable interceptions. The first came late in the first quarter as Glennon was doing what he does, passing short to tight end Dion Sims on a quick comeback. The Captain was so focussed on his intended target that not only did he make it clear to defenders where the play was going but also completely overlooked linebacker Kwon Alexander dropping out to cover Sims. Linebackers dropping into coverage to cover tight ends is a fairly common practise in all levels of football and Kwon Alexander just happens to be one of the best at doing so. It will have been in the Bears’ scouting report; throwing this interception is indefensible for a ‘veteran’ like Glennon.

The second and most inexcusable of the errors came with just over four minutes left in the first half. While down 17 points, the game was not totally out of hand at this point and so Captain Checkdown took it upon himself to rectify that situation. With wide receiver Josh Bellamy running a classic out route, Glennon threw the ball underneath the route where cornerback Robert McClain had been waiting for the duration of the play. It was an easy interception and McClain took it to the house. Had Glennon identified the underneath coverage and placed the ball over the top, Bellamy had a good deal of open space downfield to make the most of the opportunity. 

If paying a lot of money for interceptions was what the Chicago Bears wanted, they could have just stuck with Jay Cutler.

It’s time for Trubisky

Sticking with Glennon may have been forgivable were there not another option. If the choice were Mike Glennon or A.N. Other journeyman quarterback, I could understand the reluctance to make a change. These are not the situations the Bears are in, though, and there’s an extremely promising better choice waiting in the wings. 

Mitchell Trubisky was drafted second overall in this year’s draft. He didn’t come cheap. The Bears gave up a number of picks to move up one position and take him at no. 2. It appears that this cost may have clouded some judgements at Halas Hall. The Chicago Bears have become those protective parents that don’t want their child to play in case he gets hurt. Don’t get me wrong, I see the logic in holding out a rookie until they’re ready, especially if you’re throwing them to the wolves in terms of the protection they’ll receive from the offensive line but that isn’t what’s happening here. Da Bears were tied for the seventh fewest sacks received last season and ranked in Football Outsiders’ top ten run-blocking units.

Glennon has been sacked seven times thus far in regular season play. That is more than the NFL average but considering how statuesque he is in the pocket, the blame is placed more on him that his offensive line. During the preseason, Trubisky demonstrated his ability to move around the pocket and escape from unabated blitzers. Trubisky is able to react far better to a free runner compared to Glennon. Trubisky calmly rolls out of the pocket and places the ball out of bounds. Glennon, by comparison, freezes up and folds, suffering a sack.

Trubisky can actually go deep, too. Consider the pass that came in the Bears’ preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. It wasn’t against their starting defence, by any means, but it does demonstrate Trubisky’s ability to find the open receiver and put the ball into his hands no matter where he is on the field. 

During a stellar preseason, Trubisky completed 68% of his passes for a total of 364 yards over 4 games. These numbers are comparable with Glennon’s already, before he’s even made a regular season start. Obviously, it won’t be a cakewalk for Trubisky if he’s given the start now but at least doing so would give him the opportunity to grow. Most rookie quarterbacks sit in their first year so they can watch and learn from a veteran. Trubisky has absolutely nothing to learn from Captain Checkdown, certainly nothing good, anyway. If checkdowns and short dump-offs are what the Chicago Bears are gameplanning, Trubisky can easily do that, and a whole lot more, too.

There’s absolutely no question that Mitchell Trubisky should be starting now. The only question is when the Chicago Bears will wake up and recognise it.

Who should be starting quarterback in Chicago? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @thejezshow.

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Glennon stumbles, Trubisky impresses in Bears Preseason opener

The Chicago Bears opened their 2017 campaign last night hosting the Denver Broncos. In foreboding weather, under the threat of lightning, the questions on everyone’s lips were related to which of the Bears’ new Quarterbacks would perform the best in live competition. While John Fox has previously declared that Mike Glennon is the guy for week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, it’s hard to think that minds wouldn’t be changed were third overall pick, Mitchell Trubisky, to show better consistency than his fourth year counterpart. Veteran backup, Mark Sanchez, may also play spoiler to Glennon’s starting aspirations should he perform well during training camp.

A Rough Start

It was Mike Glennon who got the start in this preseason outing, though, and he wasted no time doing his best Jay Cutler impression. On the third down of the drive, Glennon demonstrated some extremely poor decision making and threw and interception that was returned for a touchdown by Broncos DB, Chris Harris. Under extreme pressure from the pass rush, Glennon panicked and tried to force the ball to his Tight End, Zach Miller, the least open receiver in the vicinity. The drive was not a total washout, however, as Glennon demonstrated that he was able to place the ball with pinpoint accuracy, putting the ball in the hands of Cameron Meredith on 2nd & 8, only to have the ball forced from the receivers hands.

Hoping to learn from his initial mistake, Glennon took the field again but was quickly forced from the field, going three and out. The pressure of the pass rush once again reached the NC State graduate and his third down pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage. After a far more successful Broncos drive, the Bears third opportunity on offence was too a comedy of errors. What started well, with a well executed 6 yard play-action pass to free agent signee Dion Sims, ended with a snap way over the head of Glennon, robbing the quarterback of a chance to redeem his earlier failures. 

As the first quarter drew to a close, Glennon began to find his feet, bolstered the ground attack of Ka’Deem Carey and rookie Tarik Cohen. After a cluster of runs put the Bears in a 3rd & 4 position, Glennon was able to demonstrate the ability he was signed for with a confident 15 yard pass to Kendall Wright in the middle of the field. On the next play, a deep pass to Cameron Meredith was unsuccessful as Glennon failed to put the ball far enough in front of the third year pro. The same issue was true of a later dig-route pass to Meredith which was broken up. In his final play of the game, Glennon showed off some of his ability to perform under pressure, escaping attack from behind to laser the ball to Zach Miller. Unfortunately, the pass was a little low and the tight end failed to bring in the pass.

Short Stint for Sanchez

In his brief appearance in the game, Mark Sanchez immediately brought a much quicker pace to the offense. While the first two drives were ultimately fruitless, the nine-year veteran was able to demonstrate his worth to the team with a fantastic downfield block that allowed Benny Cunningham to add another chunk of yards to his already successful run. While his football past may be a little chequered, the benefits that a veteran presence such as Sanchez’ brings to the Chicago Bears offense is undeniable – even if just to encourage the QB corps not to make the same mistakes that he did.

Trubisky Time

The rest of the game belonged to the second overall pick, Mitchell Trubisky. The rookie’s first drive as a pro came with two minutes remaining in the first half of the game and Trubisky used the opportunity to maintain the faster pace of offense that Sanchez had began before him. A series of runs, play-action strikes and quick passes from the shotgun brought the Bears steadily down the field. Trubisky made good decisions and completed some tough passes despite the heavy Bronco pressure that Glennon had faced earlier. The two highlights of the drive were a play-action pass to fellow rookie Adam Shaheen – which demonstrated his quick passing ability under fire – and a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz, where Trubisky rolled out of the pocket to throw a dagger to the veteran wide receiver.

Proving that it wasn’t a fluke, Trubisky led the Bears down the field for a touchdown on his second drive of the game. Throughout, the rookie demonstrated calm under pressure and continued to show off his roll-out and escape ability. On the first play of the drive, Trubisky rolled out to the right after the play-action to deliver an effortless to Thompson at the sideline. Later in the drive, on 2nd & 11, the quarterback again used the play-action to escape the pass rush, executing a video game caliber spin move to avoid contact and carry the ball himself on a 12 yard run. The Bears charged into the redzone off the back of two slant route receptions, one to Josh Bellamy and the other to Rueben Randle. The drive culminated in six points as Cunningham punched the ball into the endzone for a touchdown.

The final scoring play for the Bears was a scrappy one. After a holding call put the Monsters of the Midway in a 1st & 20 position, Trubisky was able to make back the difference with a 24 yard strike to Deonte Thompson for a fresh set of downs. Another expertly executed play-action rollout pass to Tanner Gentry took the Bears forward 13 yards and into the redzone. From there, the drive fizzled, largely due to a delay of game penalty, proving that Trubisky can make mistakes. Despite the error, the Bears were able to put 3 points up for their efforts – the final Chicago points of the game. 

Final Thoughts

Chicago Bears Defensive End, Akeim Hicks, said it best in his comments to Bears Network commentators during the game, “You look forward to seeing [Trubisky] do it against better competition.” The rookie had a fantastic game, ending the game 18/25 with 166 yards and a touchdown, but it must be remembered that this came against Denver Broncos backups. Trubisky’s performance will put Bears fans at ease having seen the potential of their first round draft pick but there’s still more that needs to be seen before anointing him the future of the franchise. Mike Glennon, in comparison, finished the game 2/8 for 20 yards and a pick 6 against the Broncos starting defense, sans Von Miller. Going forward after this extremely disappointing outing, Glennon has a lot to prove if he is going to be given the start over a more game Mitchell Trubisky or even a veteran in Mark Sanchez. Bears fans will be watching closely to see if the $45 million salary of Mike Glennon is worth the expense.

Who do you think will win the starting job for the Bears? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet me directly @thejezshow.

Originally published by RealSport
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