GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mitch Trubisky entered his first preseason game for the last possession of the second quarter. He began his second game on the last drive of the third quarter.
In the first exhibition, he played perhaps the best game of any quarterback in the league, completing 18 of 25 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos.
But if coach John Fox’s usage of Trubisky on Saturday night taught us anything, it’s that the Cardinals game wasn’t about Trubisky at all.
The Bears’ focus in the near term is all about getting starter Mike Glennon ready for the regular season. He played the entire first half, with Mark Sanchez, as promised, taking a token series in the Bears’ 24-23 victory.
Glennon was afforded the luxuries of a starter. Trubisky was merely allowed to lead the Bears’ last string.
The Bears’ quarterback competition wasn’t a fair fight — and probably won’t be in the third preseason game Sunday against the Titans, either.
Glennon played with running back Tarik Cohen, who had 11 carries for 77 yards and gave the Bears a rushing element that Fox described as ‘‘any quarterback’s best friend.” Trubisky handed the ball off to Josh Rounds, last on the depth chart, nine times in the fourth quarter.
Glennon, who was not sacked, played behind the starting offensive line.
Trubisky, who was sacked once, pulled down by the facemask another time and hit below the knees on a third excruciating play, was protected by Taylor Boggs, Tom Compton, Cyril Richardson, William Poehls and Bradley Sowell. One of the five might make the team.
Asked if he’d like to pair the No. 2 overall pick with superior blockers, Fox said the matchup is all relative — he was facing worse defenders, too.
Glennon went 13-for-18 for 89 yards. He threw an interception at the Cardinals’ 5-yard line — “A ball I shouldn’t have thrown,” he said — and a touchdown pass against a blitz and ran an offense filled with screens and safe, short throws. His four screens went for minus-four yards. He went 9-for-14 otherwise.
“None of it was safe,” Fox countered. “I thought he improved.”
Glennon and Fox focused on his reaction to the pick: He led a touchdown drive near the end of the first half.
“The turnover wasn’t a good thing,” Glennon said, “but the way we responded was more important. I thought all of our guys — myself, everyone — responded well, bounced back and got that touchdown drive.”
Trubisky went 6-for-8 for 60 yards and led the team to a touchdown on his last drive.
Fox was hesitant to judge his performance — “I haven’t seen the tape yet,” he said — before saying that, despite the Bears’ protection troubles, Trubisky did “pretty well.”
Asked how in the world he could gauge Trubisky if he’s only playing in mop-up duty, Fox said the team has the luxury of watching practice.
Running more straight drop-back throws than he did in the opener was part of Trubisky’s growth. So was facing an exotic Cardinals defense and getting a sense, with pass rushers in his face pushing the pocket, of when to stop looking downfield and try to avoid a sack.
“Just continue to develop and mesh with this offense,” Trubisky said. “It’s going to be different each week, so it’s my job to study and memorize the game plan and execute it.”
Trubisky, though, is running out of weeks.
The game in Nashville will be the Bears’ last chance to see what he looks like playing with teammates who actually could make the 53-man roster.
If the game against the Cardinals was any indication, though, the Bears aren’t particularly interested in finding out.
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