Competent QB play would transform Bears into a formidable team
Mike Glennon had an opportunity to ward off talk of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky for at least one more week in the last 3½ minutes of regulation Sunday against the Steelers.
He didn’t start in an ideal spot, being on the Bears’ 9, but the ball was in his hands in a tie game. Much like in Week 1, a victory was there for the taking. Coach John Fox’s conservative game plan had worked again.
At one point, it appeared as though Glennon might be able to ‘‘check-down’’ his way into field-goal range. Dump-offs to running backs Jordan Howard, Benny Cunningham and Tarik Cohen quickly turned into 24 yards.
Then trouble ensued. Glennon was nearly intercepted by safety Mike Mitchell on a throw well behind receiver Deonte Thompson. It was a bad throw at a bad time, a gaffe sandwiched between a fumble by Cohen that was recovered by right tackle Bobby Massie and a botched snap from center Cody Whitehair.
On third-and-10 from the Bears’ 39, Glennon found Cunningham for an eight-yard gain. It was Glennon’s last play of regulation because the Bears punted with 60 seconds left.
None of the above should be forgotten in the absurdity that was the Bears’ 23-17 overtime victory at Soldier Field.
If anything, the most important takeaway from the victory should be that the Bears are competent quarterback play away from being a formidable team. Glennon was better than he was against the Buccaneers, but he still wasn’t good. He was bailed out by his defense and by Howard’s and Cohen’s heroics in overtime.
The Bears are asking little of Glennon in their game plans, but it’s only because he’s proving to be incapable of doing more. He didn’t throw a pass in overtime as the Bears ran through a Steelers defense missing two starters in outside linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
‘‘It was the same thing I ultimately say every week, and that’s find a way to win, to put together a winning performance,’’ Glennon said when asked about his own performance. ‘‘And we did that today.’’
Point to kicker Connor Barth’s missed 47-yard field goal or to cornerback Marcus Cooper’s inexplicable decision to stop short of the end zone on his return of a blocked field goal as obvious reasons for the close game. But Glennon’s play should be included.
In the third quarter, Glennon was sacked for a seven-yard loss by nose tackle Javon Hargrave on a second-and-14 play from the Steelers’ 29.
Glennon had time to throw — Howard was open to his left — but the sack hurt the Bears’ field-goal position. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr.’s holding penalty on third down then turned their scoring opportunity into a punt.
In the fourth quarter, Glennon was intercepted by safety J.J. Wilcox after reading tight end Zach Miller’s option route incorrectly on a play from the Bears’ 12. Miller broke outside, and Glennon threw inside — into a crowd of Steelers. It was a mistake that resulted in three points for the Steelers that tied the score.
‘‘That one definitely falls on me,’’ Glennon said.
Considering the Bears had 220 rushing yards, Glennon’s final stat line — 15-for-22 for 101 yards with two sacks, a touchdown to a wide-open Adam Shaheen, an interception and a 74.2 passer rating — was uninspiring.
Glennon completed only one pass to a wide receiver, a nine-yard completion to Thompson on third-and-16 with less than six minutes left.
To be fair, Glennon went deep to receiver Markus Wheaton in the second quarter, and Wheaton failed to make the catch.
Criticism of the Bears’ receivers only goes so far, though. Glennon has embraced Fox’s better-safe-than-sorry approach and made it his way of life. Running backs caught 12 of his passes.
‘‘All that matters is our offense executed enough to win,’’ he said.
But Glennon’s execution still requires work.
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