Former team on Mike Glennon: ‘Too good of a player to be on the bench’

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Quarterback Mike Glennon started his first Bears game Sunday. (AP)

Dirk Koetter ticks through Mike Glennon’s qualities — “He’s extremely smart, he’s a great guy, he’s a lot of fun to be around,” the Buccaneers coach said Wednesday — before getting to the one thing that matters to the Bears.

“We liked him a lot, and we think he’s a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL,” he said. “Obviously, you guys are finding that out now.”

In the midst of Mike vs. Mitch Mania, not all of Chicago would agree with that assertion. The Bears’ defense of their quarterback has been consistent since their 23-17 loss to the Falcons on Sunday.  Koetter took up the cause Wednesday, too, saying the Bears had four shots from the 5-yard line to beat the Falcons.

“You’ve got the defending NFC champs coming into your stadium last week — no turnovers,” said Koetter, who was Glennon’s coordinator in 2015 and head coach last year. “Mike takes care of the football. He’s a very accurate passer. He’s an excellent leader. It didn’t surprise me one bit that he was elected captain there in Chicago.

“They had chances to win the game at the end. … If just one play goes the other way, the Bears beat the Falcons last week.”

Mike Evans, who caught his first NFL touchdown pass from Glennon, put it more simply.

“We all knew his time was coming,” the Pro Bowl receiver said. “He’s too good of a player to be on the bench.”

The Buccaneers would have been happy for him to stay there; they reportedly offered to make him the highest-paid backup in the league to remain Jameis Winston’s understudy.

“They knew how I felt about them and respected them,” Glennon said, “but they also knew my eagerness to go somewhere to play.”

That made the Bears’ drafting of Mitch Trubisky exactly seven weeks after signing Glennon all that much more awkward, of course. The specter of Trubisky figures to follow Glennon as long as he’s the Bears’ starter, the way it did Sunday, when some fans wondered if the outcome would have been different with the rookie under center.

A return to Tampa is yet another, if briefer, distraction. After spending his first four years with the Buccaneers, Glennon admitted it’s only human nature to look forward to Sunday’s game.

“It doesn’t really come down to showing them anything,” he said. “I just want to have a winning performance and help our team get to 1-1.”

The Bears maintain that Glennon did enough for the team to win when he went 26-for-40 for 213 yards and a score. The team talked all week about protecting the ball, coordinator Dowell Loggains said, and Glennon didn’t turn it over.

“To get it to the two-minute drive, that was our goal the whole time — we felt like we could win it in the end,” Loggains said. “Mike managed the clock, managed the game.”

There’s a stigma in that game-manager tag, Loggains said. But that’s precisely what Glennon did — carry out what Bears coaches thought was the best game plan.

A rhythm thrower, Glennon doesn’t have Trubisky’s mobility or zip. Rather, Loggains said, he diagnoses a defense before the snap.

“He’s going to take advantage of what the defense does, and if they’re playing soft, he’s going to take underneath throws,” Loggains said. “He’s going to be aggressive when it’s time to take his shots. It’s important that we keep him clean in the pocket because he’s not, in his words, a dual-threat quarterback.”

Koetter knows all about what Glennon does well.

Other weeks, he’ll root for him.

“I’m a huge Mike Glennon fan,” he said, “other than this Sunday.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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