Now that we’ve gotten the Mitch Trubisky jalopy, Adam Shaheen Chipotle and Tarik “Chicken Salad” Cohen nickname angles out of our system, we can finally home in on the one offseason subject that really matters: Has Mike Glennon finally met Trubisky and will the quarterbacks find a way to coexist?
Glennon will be the focus as he hits the Halas Hall practice field for organized team activities this week. And football will take a backseat to the most provocative issue at hand: Just how peeved was Glennon that the Bears drafted Trubisky at No. 2 overall after Glennon signed a three-year contract to be their starting quarterback? Will he spend his Bears career looking over his shoulder? Would he have signed with the Bears if he thought the Bears would take a quarterback in the first round of the draft?
Bears GM Ryan Pace managed the quarterback situation artfully in the privacy of free agency and draft preparation. He signed the veteran he wanted in Glennon and used Jerry Krause-like cloak-and-dagger work in pursuit of Trubisky. But now the real work begins — managing an inherently awkward quarterback situation out in the open.
In a season in which Fox and the Bears desperately need to show progress after records of 6-10 and 3-13 in coach John Fox’s first two seasons, the potential for a messy quarterback situation is fairly high. If Glennon is a revelation and establishes himself as a productive, winning quarterback, it’s all good. But it won’t take much of a misstep for fans to skip right over Mark Sanchez and look to Trubisky as the solution. And their voice can’t be discounted considering the simmering discontent after six consecutive playoff-less seasons. If Bears fans think the Bears have a quarterback issue, they have one.
So with football finally upon us, it will be interesting to see how well the Fox, Pace and the Bears manage this situation. The first part is easy — saying all the right things after an OTA workout. It figures to get more challenging when quarterbacks start throwing picks and touchdown passes in training camp, the preseason and real games — when the whole world is watching.
2. The Bears’ stealth approach to scouting Trubisky will become a part of franchise lore if Trubisky becomes an elite quarterback. But what did the Bears’ actually gain by their secrecy? They ended up paying top dollar to get him anyway — trading the No. 3 pick and three others to move up to No. 2 just on the chance that somebody else might jump them. Unless the 49ers figured they could get Trubisky at No. 3 after trading the No. 2 pick — only to have the Bears stun them by taking Trubisky — the Bears snookered nobody.
3. This week marks the first offseason football activity in which Jay Cutler is not the Bears’ starting quarterback since 2008, when Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton were in a wide-open battle for the starting job. Orton won it and started 15 games that season — with a 9-6 record and 79.6 passer rating (18 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions). Grossman started one game after Orton suffered an injury and left in free agency after that 9-7 season.
4. If there’s one thing to watch at OTAs in the next three weeks, it’s how often Trubisky gets to throw to wide receiver Kevin White. The Bears are intent on giving Trubisky a year to develop, which sure sounds like the right idea. But will they also have an open mind to the possibility that Trubisky might develop faster than they think? Practice reps will give an indication.
5. It can’t be said enough: If the Bears can’t get healthy and stay healthy, they’ll be spinning their wheels. Already it appears linebacker Danny Trevathan, defensive lineman Jaye Howard and guard Kyle Long will not participate until training camp. Others to keep an eye on: White, nose tackle Eddie Goldman, tight end Zach Miller, outside linebackers Pernell McPhee, Leonard Floyd and Lamarr Houston, rookie safety Eddie Jackson and center Hroniss Grasu.
6. This is cornerback Kyle Fuller’s last chance to endear himself to this coaching staff not only physically but mentally after he missed the entire 2016 season following arthroscopic knee surgery. Fuller seems like a long shot to stick with the Bears, but he might have more value to other NFL teams. The trick is to market that and get something for him.
“He’s moving like he’s 100 percent, and we’ll go from there,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.
7. Quarterback Connor Shaw still is worth keeping an eye on. Shaw seemed like a post-Cutler-era dark-horse candidate after missing last season with a broken leg. Now he’s buried behind Glennon, Sanchez and Trubisky — unlikely to get the shot he needs to make the roster.
8. The Bears seem to have cooled on Deiondre’ Hall, who showed potential as a lanky cornerback as a rookie but missed eight games with an ankle injury. Hall will get a shot at safety, but Fangio emphasized developing Hall’s versatility rather than his potential as a starter.
“We’re going to float him back and forth. He’s had some experience there in college,” Fangio said. “You’re going to pick nine or 10 DBs to make your team. If somebody’s got versatility … that helps. We’re going to see if he’s one of those guys.”
9. The X-factor: Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, the Bears’ third-round pick from Florida in 2016 who didn’t make a big impact as a rookie.
“He’s better prepared now to play in the trenches of the NFL than he was last year,” Fangio said. “He’s gotten a little bit bigger. I think he understands more of what’s expected of him. I don’t think he was quite ready for that last year — both physically or mentally. Emotionally, I think he’s more ready.”
10. Rookie tight end Adam Shaheen, the Bears’ second-round pick from Division II Ashland, is getting his first on-the-field look at NFL-quality defenders this week. There’s a long way to go, but Shaheen appears to be the athlete they say he is.
“Usually [with] guys that big, there’s some drawback movement-wise,” former Ferris State defensive coordinator Kyle Nystrom said. “They’re either stiff in the hips or they can’t move laterally or they have trouble with direction adjustment. Not him. He can run fast, he’s smooth and he’s agile at that size with that athleticism. He’ll do a nice job in Chicago because he can run routes, he can get open and he can catch the ball.”
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