The Bears were resolute and bold in their three big quarterback moves this offseason — cutting Jay Cutler, paying top dollar to sign Mike Glennon in free agency and trading four picks to move up one spot in the draft to take Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick.
Now we’ll see how good they are at the finesse game — giving the intriguing Trubisky a chance to show the Bears exactly what they have in their impressive rookie while not breaking the promise Glennon received from general manager Ryan Pace that “the 2017 season is my year.”
Coach John Fox wouldn’t say Monday whether the Bears have taken a step in that direction but notably didn’t disparage the notion that Trubisky might deserve snaps with the No. 1 offense in the all-important third preseason game Sunday against the Titans in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We haven’t talked about that,” Fox said. “Obviously, we’re very, very early. We’re not even into preparation for the Titans yet. We’ll meet on that. We’ll talk, and we’ll keep you guys posted.”
But Fox tacitly acknowledged the tricky part of that equation: Is there a way to give Trubisky first-team snaps against the Titans without it being an affront to Glennon?
“I think probably not,” Fox said. “Like I said, we’ll evaluate that and see where it goes.”
All this could’ve been avoided had the Bears not made the promise to Glennon in the first place. If the job was Glennon’s to lose coming into training camp, he’d be losing it. And if the Bears had left the door open just a bit, it’s likely Glennon and Trubisky would be splitting first-team snaps in a best-man-wins showdown against the Titans.
That doesn’t mean Trubisky would win that battle. But at least we’d have a better idea of just how prepared or unprepared he is to be the starting quarterback. And that’s the point — even when you factor in the various mitigating circumstances of preseason games, Trubisky at least has shown he deserves a chance to prove he’s not the Bears’ best quarterback.
Trubisky’s second preseason game wasn’t nearly as impressive as the first, but he has avoided disaster, thrown a touchdown pass in each game and has a 111.4 passer rating. For what it’s worth, Russell Wilson’s passer rating after two preseason games as a rookie with the Seahawks in 2012 was 110.5.
The difference? After an impressive second-half performance against Fox’s Broncos in the second preseason game in 2012, Wilson started the dress-rehearsal game the next week, was even better with the first-team offense than the second-team offense and won the job.
You can argue all you want about vanilla defenses and second- and third-team defenses and the lack of game plans in the preseason, but the Bears owe it to themselves — more than anything they owe Glennon — to see how Trubisky responds. He might wilt in the spotlight. But he also might blossom. As we saw Saturday night, when Trubisky was sacked once and escaped a potentially dangerous hit another time, there’s risk involved with your quarterback of the future toiling with the third-team offensive line.
And at this point, a little competition might be just what Glennon needs. For all the training-camp talk about Glennon’s leadership, authority, command of the huddle and command of the offense — it all seems to dissipate once the ball is snapped. Glennon’s chemistry-building Kumbaya trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his receivers doesn’t resonate today like it did a couple of weeks ago — except for one footnote: Trubisky was there.
It’s a trickier deal inside of Halas Hall than it is outside of it. But the Bears’ path is clear — without taking away Glennon’s No. 1 status, give Trubisky a shot with the first-team offense. Everything else will take care of itself from there.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.