TAMPA, Fla. — The carnage felt all too familiar. Another warm day in Tampa turned into another awful day for the Bears because of their quarterback’s horrendous performance.
Yep, Mike Glennon re-created Jay Cutler’s nightmare outing from last season against the Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Glennon threw two interceptions, including a pick-six, and lost a fumble in the Bucs’ 29-7 dismantling of the Bears.
Cutler did the same thing last season. He threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and lost a fumble in the Bears’ 36-10 loss to the Bucs.
It was Cutler’s penultimate game for the Bears, who already were ready to move on from his eight-year tenure with them.
Glennon’s story is different right now. The Bears aren’t quite ready to move on to rookie Mitch Trubisky, coach John Fox said.
Fox made a concerted effort to defend Glennon’s seemingly indefensible performance. The only one willing to criticize Glennon after the ugly loss was Glennon himself.
‘‘Four turnovers in the first half is not going to win many football games,’’ Glennon said. ‘‘Three of those fall on me.’’
This is where things start to become hairy for Fox. Glennon might rebound next week against the Steelers, but what if he doesn’t? What if his performance in the opener against the Falcons was his ceiling? What if the Bears lose to the Steelers? And then the Packers?
The Bears are looking at an 0-4 start. Instead of building off his decent debut with the Bears, Glennon fell flat on his face against his former team. He didn’t manage the game; he threw and fumbled it away.
Starting Glennon no longer can be sold as the risk-averse decision Fox has made it out to be. In a way, Glennon has become the risk. Fox risks what happened Sunday occurring again and risks losing the locker room. And the latter leads to wholesale changes.
The best players must play, and mounting evidence suggests Glennon isn’t who’s best for the Bears. Sticking with him limits the Bears offensively. Trubisky not only provides more on the field, but he also provides the intangible of hope.
Glennon doesn’t feel threatened by Trubisky — and that’s part of the problem. He said at no point Sunday did he feel as though Trubisky would replace him. He also said he’s not worried a change is on the horizon.
‘‘There’s been no communication of that,’’ said Glennon, who completed 31 of 45 passes for 301 yards but had a 76.2 passer rating because of his turnovers. ‘‘So there is no reason to worry.’’
But Glennon should be worrying. He can’t simply be good enough to keep the Bears in games, as he did against the Falcons; he must prove he can win games.
If that doesn’t happen and Glennon remains the starter, the Bears are in trouble. It would be a lost season. Playing Trubisky would change the narrative.
‘‘We just have to regroup and move on to Pittsburgh,’’ Glennon said. ‘‘There is nothing we can do to change this game now.’’
Last week, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains described Glennon as a ‘‘win before the snap’’ type of quarterback. The problem is that the ball must be snapped, and Glennon has struggled to find open receivers quickly.
Case in point: Glennon threw behind tight end Dion Sims and was intercepted by linebacker Kwon Alexander in the first quarter. Rookie tight end Adam Shaheen, meanwhile, was uncovered in the right flat.
‘‘We weren’t on the same page,’’ Sims said.
Case in point 2: Glennon said he had to move on to his second read, a shallow crossing route, on the play that resulted in Bucs cornerback Robert McClain’s pick-six. But Glennon only eyed his first read in receiver Josh Bellamy.
‘‘I didn’t really jump the route,’’ McClain said. ‘‘I played my technique, did the right thing and the ball came in my direction.’’
Case in point 3: Even during garbage time, Glennon failed to locate his open options. After nearly getting running back Tarik Cohen demolished with a high throw over the middle, Glennon didn’t throw to a wide-open Cohen on consecutive plays in the right flat.
Of all the problems for quarterbacks to have, being a slow decision-maker is the most damning. And Glennon exacerbates that with his immobility. He needs an optimal situation to succeed, and he’ll never get that with the injury-plagued Bears.
It took Glennon three opportunities in the red zone in the fourth quarter to turn his garbage time into a touchdown. He finally threw a 14-yard strike to receiver Deonte Thompson in the corner of the end zone in the last two minutes.
It seemed to be a feel-good moment for Glennon and the Bears, which made everything that happened earlier feel even worse.
‘‘We just didn’t put our team in good situations,’’ Glennon said. ‘‘And that falls on me.’’
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.