No NFL quarterback wants to be considered a game manager. A game manager drives 37 mph in a 45-mph zone. His desk is immaculate. He goes to bed at 9 p.m. Risks set off alarms in his head. A wading pool is a risk.
Mike Glennon is a game manager.
‘‘Mike really managed the game,’’ offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said, referring to the Bears’ opening-game loss to the Falcons. ‘‘When I say ‘manage the game,’ sometimes that phrase can be misconstrued. When I say ‘manage the game,’ he did exactly what he needed to do to play the game that we detailed out for him, how we thought we could win the game.’’
Glennon is what the Bears want, but the question is for how long. The answer is probably not for long. The idea heading into the game Sunday in Tampa, Florida, is for the defense to be dominant and for the quarterback not to screw it up. Lots of handoffs, lots of short passes. If that doesn’t get your heart racing, then neither does an oil change.
It’s the only way Glennon will keep his job, and it’s precarious even then. How do you stand out when you’re trying to blend in with the curtains? How do you make a case for yourself while being a whisper of a quarterback?
It’s a matter of when, not if, rookie Mitch Trubisky becomes the starter this season. If you prefer brash over beige, he’s your guy. He’s the opposite of a game manager. He bolts out of the pocket. He takes chances. He’s not afraid to throw the ball downfield. Bears fans think he’s to die for, and their future passes before their eyes whenever they watch him.
In the opener against the Falcons, Glennon held off the dogs for another week. He was unremarkable for the first three quarters, good for the fourth quarter and not responsible for the Bears’ final-drive woes. It wasn’t exactly an overwhelming public mandate to keep going, but it was enough.
He needs to play much better against the Buccaneers than he did against the Falcons. If he doesn’t, the clock for turning to Trubisky will start ticking faster. And the howling from the fan base will grow louder.
A victory Sunday will buy Glennon some time. An excellent performance and a victory will buy him more time.
But, again, it’s when, not if. That might have been a shocking statement in April, when the Bears took Trubisky with the second overall pick in the draft. But it became less so when the preseason games started and he looked as though he belonged, even if it was against second- and third-string opponents. The safe, smart approach would be to let Trubisky stand on the sideline and learn this season. His preseason performance told safe and smart to scram.
Glennon has to play better — or else. You won’t hear that from the Bears. Coaches rarely utter a word of public criticism about specific players these days. They don’t want to lose the locker room. At some point, though, the Bears have to win a game because of Glennon. If the goal is for a careful quarterback not to be the cause of a loss, it’s aiming very low.
In their approach to the position, Glennon collects coupons and Trubisky splurges.
‘‘Mike is a rhythm thrower,’’ Loggains said. ‘‘ . . . He’s a timing/rhythm thrower. He’s going to take advantage of what the defense does. If they’re playing soft, he’s going to take underneath throws. He’s going to be aggressive when it’s time to take his shots.
‘‘It’s important that we keep him clean in the pocket because he’s not — his words — a dual-threat quarterback. He’s a win-before-the-snap [quarterback]. He’s going to know what the coverage is, what the tells of the defense are. Those are his strengths.’’
The Bears are asking Glennon to do the safest thing, whatever it is, and he has to be perfect at it. Eventually, though, a quarterback has to lead his team to points. Today’s NFL is predicated on passing. It’s why running backs have become so devalued. And it’s why we’ll see Trubisky at some point this season.
When depends on whether the Bears’ defense is as overpowering as the coaches think it is. If the losses start to pile up because the offense is incapable of moving the ball, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Trubisky in Week 5 against the Vikings at Soldier Field. The game before is a Thursday night meeting against the Packers in Green Bay on national television. That’s not how you want to say howdy to the NFL.
Having extra days of preparation for a home game against the Vikings makes perfect sense. Unless Glennon, the game manager, manages to raise his game.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.