Mitch Trubisky will wait, but a good Bears team will need him
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was a 45-yard touchdown and tease. That’s what rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s perfect throw to rookie receiver Tanner Gentry was Sunday against the Titans at Nissan Stadium.
That’s how Trubisky’s throw should be remembered on the day quarterback Mike Glennon finally responded the way the Bears hoped he would in light of Mitch Mania.
‘‘I thought he balled out today, which is awesome to see,’’ Trubisky said of Glennon after the Bears’ 19-7 victory.
Glennon had set a low bar for himself with his first two performances this preseason, but he played well enough to quiet — temporarily, at least — the buzz Trubisky had created by virtue of his own play.
‘‘Obviously, we haven’t changed our depth chart for some time now,’’ coach John Fox said. ‘‘I don’t anticipate it happening.’’
So there you have it: Glennon is the Bears’ starting quarterback.
Against the Titans, Glennon was the mentally tough starter general manager Ryan Pace thought he was when he signed him to a three-year deal that pays him $16 million this season.
But this is where things become even more challenging for Glennon. The Bears might be a good-enough team to keep a quarterback controversy alive and thriving. We haven’t seen or heard the last from Trubisky.
The Bears are apparently OK if Glennon feels threatened by Trubisky all season long. Giving Trubisky first-teams snaps in practice and against the Titans shows that.
‘‘We try to build competition,’’ Fox said. ‘‘You want guys that respond to that, whether it’s the kicker or whether it’s taking somebody in the first round at a position, whether it’s quarterback or whether it’s outside linebacker. That’s what they thrive on, and I think Mike did that.’’
The most definitive takeaway from the preseason is that the Bears have a very good defense. Remember that the Titans are expected to be a playoff-worthy team this season.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota struggled mightily against the Bears’ defensive regulars. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 106 yards for an 80.9 passer rating in the first half. He was sacked by defensive end Akiem Hicks in the first half and by outside linebacker Willie Young in the second.
The defense was even better against the run, turning DeMarco Murray (six carries, 16 yards) and Derrick Henry (three carries, minus-3 yards) into non-factors in the first half.
The Bears’ success on special teams also continued. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris blocked a punt early in second quarter that resulted in a safety.
Considering all of the above, the Bears appear to be on the verge of being Lovie Smith-like as a team. Fittingly, their running game should be a strength again. Jordan Howard only will get better.
This should put pressure on Glennon, and having Trubisky around intensifies it. A capable quarterback might be all the Bears need to be a better-than-decent team. That quarterback, whomever he is, might be the difference for surprise playoff team.
It’s why you haven’t seen or heard the last from Trubisky. He might not be ready right now, but he might be what makes a good Bears team even better.
Glennon still leaves much to be desired. He needs to be better more often. Sunday was full of examples.
Glennon went 7-for-9 for 84 yards on the Bears’ first drive, which started on their 4-yard line. He was 3-for-3 for 35 yards on third downs and capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown toss to tight end Dion Sims.
‘‘He was sharp,’’ Fox said.
In the second quarter, however, Glennon was mediocre. He went 3-for-8 for 34 yards and had a 51.0 passer rating. Not being on the same page as receiver Deonte Thompson is an excuse that only works in the preseason. A potential 23-yard touchdown was lost.
If the Bears are going to be in close games, there will be times when the quarterback must win them. That was the case with Brian Hoyer last season. A game-manager approach only goes so far; it won’t work every week.
Glennon has resembled a younger, taller version of Hoyer, albeit with more upside. That said, his performance did afford the Bears more time to develop Trubisky, which is what they always wanted.
Trubisky’s final stat line was impressive. He finished 10-for-15 for 128 yards, his touchdown pass to Gentry and a 115.4 passer rating. But his play with the Bears’ starters showed he could learn ‘‘a lot of things,’’ Fox said.
Trubisky was 3-for-6 for 33 yards in his two possessions with the first team. His second series featured a timeout and a delay-of-game penalty.
‘‘Just be a better communicator with [offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains] and in the huddle,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘It’s just always being aware of the play clock and the situation.’’
As for his situation, Trubisky sounded as though he knows he’s back on hold. He even downplayed his work with the starters.
‘‘A couple of more reps with different guys,’’ he said. ‘‘Besides that, it’s still football.’’
Of course, it was more than that.
Trubisky’s time will come. You know it will.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.