MORRISSEY: How Mitch Trubisky went from booed to cheered in Chicago
Mitch Mania is a hot-take tornado, picking up opinions about quarterback Mitch Trubisky and tossing them around until they’re almost unrecognizable.
Plenty of people ripped the Bears on draft night for taking Trubisky. But three months later, after his excellent first preseason game and Mike Glennon’s rotten one, many of those same people immediately (shamelessly?) urged the team to name the rookie the regular-season starter. Now that Glennon figures to be the Bears’ starting quarterback for Week 1, attention and angst have turned to why the team would play Trubisky in the fourth preseason game and expose him to injury.
That’s quite a turnaround, viewpoint-wise. It’s certainly a long way from the popular draft-night sentiment of, ‘‘General manager Ryan Pace is a moron and must not be allowed to walk on the same earth that Walter Payton once did.’’
My initial opinion about the Bears’ decision to draft Trubisky hasn’t been reduced to two-by-fours and bits of drywall, but it has evolved. So before I get to my of-course-Mitch-should-play-Thursday-night-you-idiots column, here’s a summary of the meandering route I took in print to get there:
• Before the draft: If Pace believes one of the top college quarterbacks — North Carolina’s Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer or Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes — is worthy of the third overall pick, he should pull the trigger, regardless of the loud chorus of voices saying none of the QBs is good enough to be chosen that high. The Bears need a young quarterback to build around that badly.
• Draft night and immediately after: Bravo to Pace for having the conviction to move up a spot to choose Trubisky, even if a trade might not have been necessary to get him. Under no circumstance should the kid play in 2017. After all, he started only 13 college games. Let him spend the year learning under Glennon. And if some misfortune should befall the veteran, have Mark Sanchez take his place. No Mitch in a pinch!
• First preseason game, in which Trubisky completes 18 of 25 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown and Glennon finishes with a passer rating of 0.0: Um. Er. Uh. Wow, the kid is better than I thought. And Glennon is worse. Any ideas the Bears might have about tamping down the talk of a quarterback controversy are toast. They’ll have to cave to the masses if Trubisky keeps playing like this. And, yes, I know he’s playing against second- and third-stringers.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how it turned out. Trubisky continued to play well, and Glennon finally put together a touchdown drive in the third preseason game that quite possibly made Pace cry tears of joy that he wouldn’t have to start a rookie at the most difficult position in sports.
We’ve been so all over the place on the subject of Trubisky that we’ve earned enough points for a free airline ticket. He has gone from being booed at a Bulls game after the draft to being treated like a superstar, kid gloves included. It has been an amazing transformation. Any decision involving the 23-year-old is analyzed in public to within an inch of its life. As if to prove that, now we’re arguing about whether he should play in the last preseason game.
This is the time for cooler heads to prevail, and, thankfully, cooler heads are the ones making the adult decisions here. Trubisky should play Thursday against the Browns. No matter how good you might think he is after seeing him in the first three preseason games, he still needs reps. Lots of them. As many as he can get. Most of the reps in practice during the regular season will go to Glennon for as long as he’s the starter. It’s how the NFL works.
The best reason for not making Trubisky the starter is probably the real reason: After seeing him day after day, through minicamps, OTAs and training camp, the Bears don’t think he’s ready. Whether that means he doesn’t have a firm grasp of the playbook or that he’s still not completely comfortable under center, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s something else.
If they thought he was ready, if they thought he was that much better than Glennon, if they thought he could win them more games, Pace and coach John Fox would have put him in the starting lineup. They didn’t.
Instead, he again will play mostly with the second- and third-stringers Thursday at Soldier Field, where he’ll get experience he won’t get in practice once the regular season begins.
I see the Bears waiving Sanchez on Saturday and keeping only two quarterbacks. I don’t see Glennon lasting the season as the starter. I see Trubisky moving in at some point, something I previously thought was a bad idea.
But opinions are like tornado-path predictions. Subject to change.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.