Jay Cutler matured into a respected leader in the Bears’ locker room, but he never embraced — or even was interested in — the public “face-of-the-franchise” role that often is part of being a championship quarterback in the NFL.
Mike Glennon is a little different.
“I think you represent a lot of people when you speak when you’re the quarterback of the team,” said Glennon, who signed a three-year, $45 million contract last week. “You represent yourself. You represent your family. You represent your team. You represent your city.
“Hopefully, I can get involved in the community and help have a positive impact. I think the quarterback is held to a higher standard. That’s the kind of role that excites me about that.”
Glennon might end up being a place holder for the Bears’ next franchise quarterback. But if he turns out to be that guy, intangibles likely will put him over the top. Can he make his teammates better? Can he will his team to victory in crucial moments by instilling a laser focus in his teammates? As much as Cutler was respected by his teammates in recent years, they rarely seemed to raise their level of performance for him. There were too many slips, drops, miscommunications and penalties. There was always something that seemed to go wrong.
The Bears seem convinced that Glennon can make players better.
“I think he has a natural leadership style to him,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “He’s been that way. He was that way at N.C. State. He’s that way now.”
Pace was convinced of that when he met Glennon on Thursday.
“He asked, ‘Can I have a picture of everybody in the building I’m going to interact with,’ ” Pace said.
“ ‘Can I have the cellphones of every single player on offense and certain guys on defense?’ So right away I think that tells you something about a guy when that’s the kind of mindset before he even walks in the building.
“That’s just kind of his style, and it’s very natural for him. He’s very charismatic. I think players are going to respond very positively to that.”
A quarterback who is the true “face of the franchise” would go a long way to repairing an awkward leadership dynamic that has coincided with the team’s demise since Brian Urlacher retired. The Bears’ leading voices in recent seasons have been look-at-me -players such as Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett. Three of their -captains the last two seasons have been first-year players — Antrel Rolle and Pernell McPhee in 2015; Danny Trevathan in 2016. Two of their captains last season were Cutler and Alshon Jeffery. They were respected in the locker room but were reticent or even disdainful of engendering a public -persona.
And make no mistake about it, having a public face of the franchise is a big part of a championship-caliber team. Every winning team in this town in recent memory has had that, from Michael Jordan to Paul Konerko to Jonathan Toews. The go-to guy’s voice resonates with fans and teammates whenever they speak. The guy who says “It’s like we suck” when the team is 1-3, and then it wins eight straight. The guy who says “R-E-L-A-X” when the team is 1-2, and it finishes 12-4.
The 2006 Super Bowl team had that in Olin Kreutz, Mike Brown and Urlacher. When the torch was passed to players less willing to fill that role — Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman — the difference was obvious. Whether it’s Glennon or Kyle Long or somebody in the background, the Bears are in dire need of somebody to step up and lead the way.
Follow me on Twitter@MarkPotash.