Everyone notices quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s flashes of brilliance: a strong throw to a tight end through traffic, his touch on long completions, his ability to hit receivers in stride.
But they’re only flashes.
Everyone sees that, too.
“He’s going to be a really good player,” wide receiver Kendall Wright said. “He’s got a lot of learning to do, but I think he’s going to be good.”
After 11 days of practice in training camp, it’s clear Trubisky is not the Bears’ best quarterback. He undoubtedly has the talent, but Mike Glennon — despite his own struggles — has a stranglehold on the starting job.
At this point, Trubisky isn’t even threatening backup Mark Sanchez, who arguably has been the most consistent of the three quarterbacks at Olivet Nazarene University.
And that’s OK.
All of it is — even being behind Sanchez.
For now, Trubisky’s main competition isn’t with Glennon; it’s with himself. He has to master the offense while handling lofty expectations. He has to be patient with his progress but remain excited about it.
Trubisky will be the third quarterback to take the field for the Bears on Thursday against the Broncos in their exhibition opener.
Again, that’s OK.
“I’ve just been pleased with how well I’ve been able to pick things up, just command in the huddle with all the calls at the line of scrimmage, getting the protections set and getting us in the right play, so we’re able to move efficiently,” Trubisky said. “[It’s] really just trying to put it all together each day and improve on mistakes each day.”
Mistakes can pile up for rookies. Tuesday’s practice, for example, ended on a sour note. A miscommunication led to cornerback-turned-safety Deiondre’ Hall’s interception of Trubisky during a goal-line drill. Coach John Fox then called practice. Trubisky’s gaffe was the final play.
“It sucks,” said Trubisky, who has struggled to complete passes in late-game-situation drills. “But I got extra throws after practice to improve other parts of my game. I mean, everyone throws picks. That was just a mistake, and it was a simple mistake. It’s not something to dwell on.”
For all his mistakes, Trubisky has maintained the right attitude. His positivity should be a huge asset. He seems to understand that he’s a work in progress. He’s willing to criticize himself. On Tuesday, it was his bad habit of reverting to his footwork from college.
“Everything’s got to be a step faster,” Trubisky said.
In other words, those wishing for a Carson Wentz-like development this season should prepare to be thoroughly disappointed. It was a bad comparison in the first place.
A playoff-caliber team — the Dolphins — already lost its quarterback, and Jay Cutler was called first. Glennon isn’t going anywhere.
When Wentz supplanted Sam Bradford as the Eagles’ starting quarterback in the 2016 preseason, his emergence was aided by playing in North Dakota’s pro-style offense.
Trubisky’s transition from North Carolina’s shotgun-based scheme hasn’t been as seamless. A bobbled snap, a botched handoff or a misfired throw into coverage seems to follow every beautifully accurate throw.
In the end, Wentz’s emergence last year might make him an outlier among high-round quarterbacks, particularly this season.
Similar to Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, the 10th overall selection, will be the Chiefs’ third quarterback in their preseason opener.
Tom Savage will start the Texans’ preseason opener, not Deshaun Watson, the 12th overall pick. Brock Osweiler also will open the Browns’ first exhibition, not DeShone Kizer, the 52nd pick.
Knowing that other rookie quarterbacks are biding their time shouldn’t deter scrutiny of Trubisky. He was drafted before them all. But his situation is a reminder of how difficult it is to play quarterback at the NFL level.
“The future’s bright for him,” tight end Zach Miller said. “He’ll just keep on working and keep on getting better.”
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.