What do the changes at quarterback mean to John Fox and the Bears?
Here’s a general observation from the Bears’ third offseason program under coach John Fox, which concluded Thursday: The quarterbacks require work.
Regardless of who was under center, the day — and every day — seemed to be ruled by incomplete passes, interceptions and would-be sacks.
“There’s going to be good days and bad days,” quarterback Mike Glennon said.
For now, those bad days haven’t dismayed Fox. It’s June, and he’s full of optimistic statements.
“This is the most encouraged I’ve been, at least in my tenure,” he said after ending the final minicamp practice early for the second year in a row. “I don’t know that you ever feel like you’ve arrived, at least from my experience. [But] I feel more comfortable with the type of guys we have, the type of locker room we’ve created.”
That said, what the Bears have created is a situation at quarterback that Fox has never before handled in his 16 years as an NFL head coach. Consequently, he’s more linked to the Bears’ quarterbacks than he has ever been.
On one hand, the arrivals of Glennon and rookie Mitch Trubisky signify a fresh start. The Bears are rebuilding. It’s why they’ve parted with some big names — and those efforts wouldn’t have been complete without saying goodbye to eight-year starter Jay Cutler. It’s thought that their starting anew at quarterback has afforded Fox more time, if not more leeway, to improve a team that sunk to 3-13 last year.
But Fox, a respected defensive mind, still needs to win with Glennon as his starter and develop Trubisky as the future. Their ups and downs will define more than just this season.
And whether he says it or not, Fox knows it.
“I thought [Glennon and Trubisky] improved,” he said of minicamp. “We did a lot of situational football. We’ve been able to create some of the environments we’ll have in games. Hopefully, the more they do it, the better they’ll get at it.”
Regardless of the faith he has in offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, it’s still Fox’s show, and he’ll needs to be hands-on. So he’s made changes. The quarterbacks are using virtual-reality technology to increase the number of plays they see, even if they’re not going through them physically. A giant video board has been added to the sidelines at practice to provide all players with immediate looks at plays as if they were in games.
Fox said the Bears also will use three different practice schedules in training camp in an effort to limit what he described as “grinding [the players] down.”
But the Bears also are running their practices differently because of their quarterback situation, which requires that Glennon, Trubisky and even Mark Sanchez get enough work. That’s a noticeable difference from the past, when Cutler would get the bulk of the practice repetitions in the offseason program and camp.
This is a new priority for Fox — a new way of life — after he sought advice from other coaches who’d been in similar situations.
“The biggest thing is creating the reps for all three quarterbacks and still developing the ones you think are proven the most worthy,” Fox said. “[The quarterbacks] need those type of reps. Even though it’s not games, it’s still live football for the most part, and [it’s] making those decisions. A big part of being a quarterback is the decision-making, and the more opportunities we can put them in that position, the better.”
The Bears and Fox need it to work.
“I like the way [the quarterbacks] go about their business, and we still have a lot of work to do, for sure,” Fox said. “We’ll see where it takes us.”
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