Everything about the Bears’ franchise changed on the first night of the draft when they selected North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall. But the Monday after, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone listened to what quarterback Mike Glennon was discussing — and how he was discussing it — and was impressed.
“We were in the classroom, and Mike was asking questions about [pass] protection,” Ragone said. “It was as professional as you could imagine.”
Nothing is worth monitoring more than the Glennon-Trubisky dynamic — Glennon as the starter, Trubisky as the young gun to be developed — and the Bears might have the right people in place to keep that dynamic positive and productive. Here’s a look at their thought process and goals:
Preparing Glennon to start while ensuring Trubisky gets enough reps in practice for his development is an organizational decision — a new way of life that starts with general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox.
“That’s going to be something that this organization is embracing,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Obviously, the two bosses communicate very well with each other, and obviously I’m a part of that. Dave Ragone’s a big part of that. Everyone that touches the schedule is a part of that.
“We’ve got to be really good at assessing where each guy’s at. And that’s the biggest key for us — knowing exactly where each guy is at and figuring out and being flexible with the reps.”
Certain factors will affect those reps, namely injuries and how the Bears are faring. But everything is on the table. Loggains called dividing reps “our biggest challenge.”
“We’re going to look at every different option, every different avenue and be flexible,” he said. “Some things may be different day-to-day that way.”
When it comes to coaching first-round quarterbacks, Loggains and Ragone have the experience to draw from. Loggains was the Tennessee Titans’ quality-control coordinator for two years when they had Vince Young (No. 3 pick in 2006) and veteran Kerry Collins. He was later the Titans’ quarterbacks coach when Jake Locker was drafted eighth overall in 2011 and had Matt Hasselbeck there to mentor him.
Ragone also was on the Titans’ staff at the time, including one year as quarterbacks coach in 2013 after Loggains was promoted to coordinator.
“Experience helps you grow as a coach,” said Loggains, who was the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach when Johnny Manziel was drafted 22nd overall in 2014. “[It] helps you learn from your mistakes.
“We have a strong organization [where] a lot of people have been through this process. [It’s] just making sure we do what’s right by Mike and giving him enough opportunities to get ready and develop Mitch.”
Expectations and pressure are different for first-round quarterbacks. Selected in the third round in 2003, Ragone spent three years with the Houston Texans, starting two games that year after they drafted David Carr first overall in 2002.
“Every guy is different,” Ragone said. “Each quarterback is cut differently in terms of how they process and handle the ‘outside’ that doesn’t go on within the building during the meetings. [It’s] getting a comfort zone and having a good feel for how to approach their time every day.”
On Friday, Trubisky said his communication with Glennon was only through text messages so far.
“That’s the day and age,” Trubisky said. “So I’m looking forward to meeting him. But I’ve been talking to him, and he says it’s a great time to be in because we’re all learning the playbook together. They’re anxious to get out there with me and just go to work.”
Has Glennon been supportive?
“Yeah,” Trubisky said.
It helps that they have been in similar situations.
Thanks to two coaching changes in Tampa Bay, Glennon went from a rookie starter to Josh McCown’s backup to an afterthought when the Buccaneers drafted Jameis Winston first overall in 2015.
“I would like every quarterback in the room to get better every day and treat your teammates the way that you’d want to be treated,” Loggains said. “Mike’s been through this process.”
So has Trubisky. He was a backup for two years at North Carolina behind Marquise Williams, even though he was the better, more promising player.
North Carolina’s coaches had their reasons for sitting Trubisky. But his willingness to stay on when other players might have transferred resonated with the Bears.
“It was frustrating not getting my opportunity,” Trubisky said. “But it also taught me a lot of things about patience and what to do in the meantime to work and continue to better yourself, and ultimately, how to be a great teammate throughout the process when things aren’t going your way. It made me the man and player I am today. I’m thankful for it.”
Answers like that are why the Bears are comfortable with putting him behind Glennon. To Ragone, the focus in the quarterbacks room never changes.
“It’s about helping the starter,” he said. “Anybody that’s ever been in a quarterbacks room understands that. Egos are not egos when there is a starting quarterback and there are obviously guys behind him.”
The Fox factor
Quarterback controversy — what’s that? Fox doesn’t see one brewing here.
“I don’t think we’re doing anything new and different,” he said. “Everybody in the league has a backup and third quarterback. I don’t know that it’s a new concept. I’d rather not make a big deal out of something I don’t think’s a big deal.”
Still, this is new for Fox. In his 15 years as a head coach, never has he drafted a QB as high as Trubisky.
Revered for his people skills, Fox ultimately will shape the dynamic between his quarterbacks and the rest of the team.
“There’s competition, and there’s camaraderie, there’s brotherhood, teamwork, all of those things,” Fox said. “Everybody makes each other better.”