Yes, John Fox, these are the “Mike Glennon Bears.”
If the Bears wanted a placeholder at quarterback, they should have re-signed Brian Hoyer to a bargain-rate contract and gone into this season with Hoyer, Connor Shaw and rookie Mitch Trubisky battling for the starting job.
Instead, they gave a top-dollar contract to Glennon, a player with five NFL victories on his résumé (three years, $45 million, $18.5 million guaranteed), anointed him the starter and gave Trubisky no chance to win the starting job. That defined Glennon as your guy and the guy.
So while coach Fox was adamant that “a lot of people had their hand” in Sunday’s 29-7 loss to the Buccaneers, it starts with Glennon. When you’re nearly one-third of the salary cap among starting offensive players, you’re not just one-11th of the offense or one-53rd of the team.
Whether or not Fox wants to acknowledge it, the Bears set the bar pretty high for Glennon. This is his offense. Nobody’s expecting Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers — just a quarterback who can make the most of what he has to work with. Glennon not only isn’t doing that, but he doesn’t look like he can.
It’s not all Glennon’s fault. The Bears have an offense issue, a talent issue, an injury issue and a quarterback issue. But which of those is the easiest to fix? For years, the quarterback issue was last on that list with the Bears. Now it’s first.
The team’s supporting cast can be upgraded only so much. The returns of guard Kyle Long and receiver Markus Wheaton will help, but who knows when they’ll be back. The one upgrade the Bears can attempt to make now is at quarterback. They’ll stick with Glennon, but it seems inevitable they eventually will turn to the guy who Fox himself recently acknowledged “can raise all boats.” And when that time comes, they’ll be the “Mitch Trubisky Bears.” The title comes with the job.
2.What did general manager Ryan Pace see in Glennon?
“Obviously he’s a big quarterback with a strong arm,” Pace said the day Glennon was introduced. “But beyond that, [he has] all the other traits that I value at the position — he’s intelligent, he can quickly process, he can see the field, he’s accurate, he gets the ball out quick.
“I think he has a natural leadership style to him. He’s been that way. He was that way at N.C. State. He’s that way now.”
Unfortunately, we’ve seen very little evidence that Glennon is the quarterback Pace and the Bears’ scouting staff saw. He’s tall. He has been accurate. But he doesn’t have a quick release. He doesn’t throw the ball deep. He hasn’t made good decisions. He can’t move the pocket to give his receivers time to get open. And he hasn’t been able to escape pressure or make something out of nothing, which is what this offense with this receiving corps needs most.
3.Glennon’s teammates ultimately will decide his fate. Bears receivers had six dropped passes in the second half Sunday — two by Kendall Wright and one each by Josh Bellamy, Tarik Cohen, Zach Miller and Tanner Gentry.
“It’s just focus and concentration,” Fox said. “I liken it to when you shank [a shot in golf]. You’ve gotta stay focused. It’s a very mental game.”
Focus can wane in the second half of a blowout. But part of the “it” factor for quarterbacks is the ability to command focus. According to sportingcharts.com, only 1.85 percent of Brady’s passes were dropped last season (eight of 432). For Rodgers, it was 2.13 percent (13 of 610).
4.Fox has two notable quarterback changes in his career: Jake Delhomme for Rodney Peete in the first half of the 2003 opener at Carolina (the Panthers went from 7-9 in 2002 to 11-5 and a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots) and Tim Tebow for Kyle Orton at halftime in Week 5 in Denver in 2011. The Broncos, 1-4 with Orton, went 7-4 with Tebow to make the playoffs at 8-8, then beat the Steelers in the wild-card round before losing to the Patriots.
As Fox noted, Delhomme had lost a close preseason battle with Peete, so that change wasn’t surprising. What’s noteworthy about the Tebow experience is the immediate impact it had on the Broncos’ defense. In the first half against the Chargers when Orton was at quarterback, the Broncos allowed 276 yards, 7.3 per play and 23 points. In the second half with Tebow, they allowed 142 yards, 3.6 per play and three points.
The Broncos held opponents to 15 or fewer points in five of Tebow’s first eight starts, winning seven to fuel the playoff charge.
5.When the Bears fell behind 26-0 at halftime against the Buccaneers, it marked the fourth time they had trailed by 26 points in a game under Fox and the eighth time in four-plus seasons (66 games) since Lovie Smith was fired after the 2012 season. The Bears trailed by 26 or more seven times in nine years (144 regular-season games) under Smith.
6.The Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott and the Bears’ Jordan Howard— the two leading rushers in the NFL last season — combined for 15 yards on 18 carries Sunday (0.8 average). Howard gained seven yards on nine carries against the Bucs. Elliott gained eight yards on nine carries in a 42-17 loss to the Broncos.
7.Kudos to running back Cohen for handling a difficult situation like a pro. The rookie was as available and responsive in talking about his punt-return gaffe Sunday as he was about his stellar debut in the opener. That’s how it’s done.
8.Tyre Brady Watch: Facing double-teams virtually the entire game after a 248-yard game against N.C. State the previous week, Brady still had five receptions for 71 yards (14.2 average) in Marshall’s 21-0 victory over Kent State on Saturday. In three games, the 6-3, 208-pound transfer from Miami has 19 receptions for 373 yards and two touchdowns.
9.Ex-Bears Player of the Week: Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler, who started 104 games for the Bears from 2009 to 2016, completed 24 of 33 passes for 230 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 19-17 victory over the Chargers.
Cutler’s luck was better as well. Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal that would have won the game with five seconds left. In Cutler’s debut with the Bears in 2009, he threw four picks in a loss to the Packers and the Bears lost Brian Urlacher for the season with a dislocated wrist.
10.Bear-ometer: 5-11 — vs. Steelers (L); at Packers (L); vs. Vikings (L); at Ravens (L); vs. Panthers (L); at Saints (L); vs. Packers* (W); vs. Lions (W); at Eagles (L); vs. 49ers (W); at Bengals (W); at Lions (L); vs. Browns (W); at Vikings (L).
* — Mitch Trubisky’s first start.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.