A Tim Tebow package for Mitch Trubisky? Bears better off being patient
The last question asked of coach John Fox after the Bears’ mandatory minicamp practice Tuesday was a hypothetical one, the kind he typically avoids answering as though he were under congressional investigation.
Could the Bears develop a special package for first-round pick Mitch Trubisky in regular-season games this season?
“I’ve been around situations like that before, back in my time in Denver with [Tim] Tebow,” Fox said. “We’re going to do whatever we can as coaches and put guys in positions where they can utilize their skill set, and it won’t be any different this year.”
That was not a “yes.”
Nor should it be.
Outsiders desperate to find a regular-season role for Trubisky in 2017 have been left to come up with fantastical, implausible scenarios to get him on the field.
The No. 2 overall pick, though, knows the Bears will be patient. They’re paying Mike Glennon to be the starter so Trubisky can spend the season adjusting to life in the NFL.
“I would say they’re definitely giving me room to grow, which is nice, so they’re not rushing me,” Trubisky said. “So I don’t feel any pressure. They’re not putting pressure on me.
“But I’m putting pressure on myself, trying to be ready as soon as possible, so if they ever need me, I can go in there. But that’s just how I am. I’m a perfectionist and am going to try to get it right the first time and keep improving every time.”
Of all the places where Trubisky can improve in his rookie year, the playing surface during a meaningful game is, at least for now, near the bottom of the list. He needs to become comfortable in the meeting rooms and the practice field first.
With a mandate to maximize practice snaps for Glennon and Trubisky — the former has thrown 11 passes since the end of the 2014 season — the Bears have found a way to mimic game situations during quarterback meetings.
Fox revealed the Bears are one of seven or eight NFL teams that have begun using virtual-reality devices to simulate game action.
“Our newness at quarterback, whether it’s Mitchell, Mark [Sanchez] or Mike, it’s just getting reps that the other guys don’t as far as the on-the-field,” Fox said. “They’re able to get it in the meeting room, where it’s ‘virtually’ like practicing.”
A common theme for the four quarterbacks — including Sanchez, whose injured left knee will keep him out until training camp, and fourth-stringer Connor Shaw — should be of no surprise. Bears quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley combined to throw 19 interceptions and only 18 touchdown passes last year.
Leaguewide, only two quarterbacks who threw for at least 10 scores posted worse ratios — Brock Osweiler, who has since been traded by the Texans to the Browns, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose Jets contract was voided in February before he signed to take Glennon’s old spot as the Buccaneers’ backup.
“It comes down to decision-making, and that’s something we need to do better,” Fox said. “We threw a lot of interceptions a year ago, and that didn’t help our cause. It’s something that our coaching staff is doing a really good job of.”
His quarterbacks need the experience.
“Every time I’m out there is probably the first time I’ve run the play in this particular offense,” Glennon said. “So every time I’m out there, it matters, and the more we do that, the more we’ll grow as an offense.”
In Tampa, Dirk Koetter’s offense focused on trying to find explosive plays down the field. The Bears have more of a multiple scheme, with bootlegs, play-action and quick throws to try to exploit specific matchups.
“[It’s] one thing knowing things from an X’s and O’s standpoint,” Glennon said. “It’s another just executing it and actually doing it on the field against a defense. Every rep allows me an opportunity to do something that I haven’t necessarily done here. So the more reps I get, the more comfortable I’ll be.”
Trubisky — who Glennon said has “done a really good job of learning the offense, understanding what we’re trying to accomplish” — is improving, too. He said he’s more comfortable making protection calls, going through his receiver progressions and mastering his footwork.
“I’m really proud of [how far] I’ve come,” Trubisky said, “but I know I still have a long ways to go.”
He should be given plenty of time to get there.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.