First-and-10: Bears win, but it’s all about the QB — Mitch Trubisky
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It wasn’t exactly a ‘‘Rex is our quarterback’’ moment, but Bears coach John Fox acknowledged — as best he could — that Mike Glennon will start at quarterback Thursday against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
‘‘We’re not going to announce our starting lineup until pretty close to game time,’’ Fox said. ‘‘But I think that would be a fairly proper assessment.’’
That the question was asked and answered is a good indication of where the Bears stand after their 23-17 upset victory Sunday against the Steelers. Until further notice, every victory is a small step for the Bears. The chance to take a giant leap won’t come until Mitch Trubisky becomes the starter.
Glennon passed for 101 yards and the Bears had 84 net passing yards against the Steelers. That’s the Bears’ fewest passing yards in a victory since 2010, when Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie combined for 51 passing yards and the Bears had 29 net passing yards in a 23-6 victory against the Fox-coached Panthers.
But that’s when Jay Cutler was injured and would return the next week. The Bears’ victory Sunday was more reminiscent of the glory days of the Lovie Smith regime in 2005 and 2006, when the team would win with substandard quarterback performances by Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman and Lovie would fend off queries about whether he had a better option.
With a savage defense and strong — sometimes spectacular — special teams, the Bears won five games with fewer than 100 net passing yards in 2005-06. Nobody else in the NFL won more than three during that span.
And the refrain is familiar.
‘‘He wasn’t perfect as far as the mistakes and turnovers,’’ Fox said about Glennon. ‘‘But like everybody out there, they played well enough for us to win.’’
It’s only a matter of time before that rationalization gives way to the opposite one: ‘‘We’re going with the guy who gives us the best chance to win.’’
If Trubisky was not ready to play, he wouldn’t be the No. 2 quarterback. Is there a difference between being ready to play and being ready to start? Unless Glennon suddenly finds a way to get the ball downfield without handing it off to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, we’ll find out soon enough. The way the Bears are going, there’s no such thing as a big victory unless Trubisky is under center.
2. The Bears rushed for 220 yards on 38 carries (5.8-yard average) against the Steelers. That’s only the fourth time in coach Mike Tomlin’s 11 seasons that an opponent has rushed for 200 or more yards against his team.
Even more impressive was the Bears’ balance. They rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries in the first half (5.7-yard average) and 106 yards on 18 carries (5.9-yard average) in the second half and overtime. And they were at their best at the end. It’s the first time in the Tomlin era a team has rushed for 100 or more yards in each half against the Steelers.
3. The Bears have all but thrown up their hands with their wide-receiver situation. They had only four wide receivers active Sunday, and Deonte Thompson was the only one to catch a pass. And it wasn’t much, an uninspired nine-yard gain on third-and-16 in the fourth quarter.
The last time the Bears had fewer receiving yards from their wide receivers, they won the Super Bowl. In 1985 against the Lions, Ken Margerum’s eight-yard reception from Steve Fuller was the only one by a Bears wide receiver in a 24-3 victory.
The previous season, the Bears nearly won a game without a catch from a wide receiver. Running back Matt Suhey (five catches, 34 yards) and tight ends Emery Moorehead (four, 53) and Pat Dunsmore (two, 14) had all the receptions from Rusty Lisch and Walter Payton — who threw a touchdown pass to Suhey — in a 20-14 loss to the Packers, who scored the winning touchdown with 35 seconds left.
4. Credit where it’s due: The Bears’ wide receivers didn’t do much in the passing game, but Thompson and Josh Bellamy had big blocks in the running game, especially in overtime. Thompson cleared the way for Jordan Howard’s winning 19-yard touchdown run.
5. Believe it or not, Sunday was the first time in more than 10 years (and 39 tries) that the Bears, Cubs and White Sox won on the same day.
The last time that happened — Sept. 16, 2007 — the heroes were Devin Hester (73-yard punt return in a victory against the Chiefs), Cedric Benson (101 rushing yards), Tommie Harris (two sacks), Matt Murton (three-run home run against the Cardinals), Jason Marquis (one run in 6„ innings) and Jim Thome, whose walk-off two-run homer gave the Sox a 9-7 victory against the Angels.
6. Injury problems continue to make it difficult for the Bears to sustain any progress. Safety Quintin Demps is out indefinitely with a broken left arm.
Guard Josh Sitton (ribs) might return Thursday against the Packers, his former team, after missing the game against the Steelers. Sitton played in 122 of 124 games with the Packers, including starting streaks of 49 and 75 games. But his longest streak with the Bears is six games.
This is already the third time the 31-year-old Sitton has missed a game because of injury with the Bears.
7. Is Aaron Rodgers losing his touch? The Packers quarterback still seems to be at the top of his game, but he had an interception returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Bengals cornerback William Jackson — only the second pick-six of Rodgers’ career and the first since 2008. It ended a streak of 139 games and 4,502 passes without a pick-six.
Rodgers isn’t only the NFL’s all-time leader in lowest interception percentage (1.6), but he rarely throws a bad one. In Week 1, though, he had a 64-yard pick-six by Seahawks defensive lineman Nazair Jones nullified by a penalty. And in the 2015 playoffs, he had a 100-yard return by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson nullified by a penalty.
8. Tyre Brady Watch: Marshall didn’t play last week, so Brady still has 19 receptions for 373 yards and two touchdowns in three games. Marshall plays at Cincinnati on Saturday.
9. Ex-Bears Player of the Week: Josh McCown is still living the dream. McCown outdueled his good friend Cutler to spark the Jets to an upset of the previously unbeaten Dolphins on Sunday. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a 126.3 passer rating. Cutler was 26-for-44 for 220 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 70.3 rating.
10. Bear-ometer: 6-10 — at Packers (L); vs. Vikings (L); at Ravens (L); vs. Panthers (W); at Saints (L); vs. Packers (W); vs. Lions (W); at Eagles (L); vs. 49ers (W); at Bengals (L); at Lions (L); vs. Browns (W); at Vikings (L).
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.