BOURBONNAIS — Perhaps it’s an unintended consequence of the Bears’ grand — and bold — quarterback plan: Mike Glennon is the unquestioned starter. But Mitch Trubisky’s progress always will be the hot topic.
As clear as the Bears have been about the quarterback pecking order for 2017 — Glennon, Mark Sanchez, then Trubisky — it’s a bit of an awkward situation whenever the quarterbacks are discussed. The Bears don’t want to say Trubisky isn’t making progress. But even coming close to raving about their rookie prospect creates an issue they want to avoid at all costs: Just when will Trubisky be ready?
Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone handled the situation as well as he could Monday, when Bears offensive assistant coaches met the media at Olivet Nazarene. The upshot: Trubisky is doing fine, just like all the other quarterbacks.
What about Trubisky has impressed him the most? His accuracy? His ability to make plays after protection breaks down? His mobility? His command of the huddle? That throw on the move to tight end Ben Braunecker during practice that looked like Joe Montana’s NFC-title-winning touchdown pass to Dwight Clark?
“Well, he’s come in with the right attitude,” Ragone said. “He’s come in with the mindset of, ‘Every day I’m going to get better.’ In the meetings, he’s asking the right questions. On the practice field, he’s trying to stay locked in — especially when he’s not in, which is tough when you come in from being a starter in college and now you have to wait again. That’s what we ask of all the guys who aren’t in.”
From first impressions at training camp, it appears the Bears have Trubisky pegged right. His skills are evident — particularly his accuracy and ability to throw on the run. But he still looks like a rookie who needs time. On Day 1, he fumbled three snaps and bobbled another. On Monday, he made his best throws of camp — the rolling-right pass to Braunecker and a dart to Victor Cruz in the flat that Cruz took up the sideline.
Extra work has made the fumbled snaps under center “a non-issue,” Ragone said. The throw to Braunecker showed off his natural ability to improvise.
“He’s a gifted athlete,” Ragone said. “What he did a great job of is he got out there, his eyes were up, he saw something and decided to make a play, and it worked out. Those are all things that are natural to him, so you never want to take those playmaking [scenarios] away from him. [But] being able to go through his progressions and make the right decisions is just as vitally important.”
But Ragone would not bite when asked if he sees the future in Trubisky — the skills he does better than anybody in the room and just needs experience to parlay them into franchise-quarterback status.
“I wouldn’t term it [that] way,” Ragone said. “Each play is its own entity, and that’s how we look at it. You can tell when a quarterback feels comfortable with a plan and when he needs more work at it. We measure each quarterback by how they operate in the huddle first, at the line of scrimmage second and then when the ball is snapped. We see what the comfort level is and what we need to work on in individual drills, and it goes for every quarterback, not just Mitch.”
Sanchez is a valuable veteran mentor. Connor Shaw is on the fringe, getting few snaps in practice. But regardless of the chemistry in the room, Trubisky’s progress will always matter most.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.