LAKE FOREST, Ill. — One of the NFL’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open.
Since the moment the Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky second overall, the organization — from top to bottom — has maintained the public stance that no quarterback controversy exists between Trubisky and veteran Mike Glennon, whom Chicago signed to a deal in the offseason that guarantees him $16 million in 2017.
But Wednesday’s revelation that Trubisky handled some first-team practice reps with an eye toward quarterbacking Chicago’s No. 1 offense — for at least one series — after halftime of Sunday’s third preseason game at Tennessee debunks the myth of Glennon’s supposed airtight job security.
“I don’t like doing hypotheticals,” Bears coach John Fox said on whether he’s open to starting the regular season with Trubisky.
“Right now Mike Glennon’s the starter; he’s going to start preseason Game 3, which is usually a pretty good indicator where you start the season.”
Fox is right. Trubisky probably isn’t ready yet to be under center in Week 1 against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. But as we wrote Wednesday morning, Trubisky’s play during the first two exhibition games (24-of-33 for 226 yards and two touchdowns) necessitates that the Bears take him out for a brief test drive against starting-caliber defensive players — and Sunday’s contest in Nashville is the last chance to do so.
“I would say I’ve shown them what I can do,” Trubisky said. “I think I’ve progressed faster than they expected I would, but I’ve still got a long ways to go and I know that. But I think I’ve shown that I’ve earned these reps and I just need to continue to get better each day.”
At least Fox can agree on that.
“I think his performance has been good,” Fox said. “To get a true evaluation and for us to look at him, you need to do this and I think most people in the league would agree and do this.”
Look at Chicago’s schedule. The Bears open with Atlanta (11-5 in 2016), Tampa (9-7), Pittsburgh (11-5) and Green Bay (10-6). Following the Thursday night game in Week 4, the Bears have a natural gap in the schedule before they host Minnesota on Monday Night Football on Oct. 9. Could that be when Trubisky takes over if it all goes south for the Bears and Glennon in the first quarter of the season? These are the hypotheticals the Bears don’t want to deal with, but it’s something to consider.
Whatever happens at quarterback, of course, hinges on how quickly Trubisky can master the offense and learn the nuances of playing quarterback at the top level, not to mention Glennon’s ability to fend off the rookie.
Glennon comes across as a very hard-working, earnest guy, but he has to know the writing is on the wall. Glennon lived through a similar ordeal in Tampa — minus the guaranteed money — when the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston first overall in 2015.
“I mean, déjà vu,” Glennon said. “Again, it’s situations that I’ve been through before that I handled myself well in the past, and I’ll continue to do that in this situation.”
Glennon sure sounds like a player looking over his shoulder — and why shouldn’t he?
It’s clear the Bears are in the midst of a legitimate quarterback competition, even if key decision-makers want to still distance themselves from uttering the phrase “quarterback controversy.”
“Well, I’d answer that, but you guys’d run with it somehow, so I’ll just not answer it,” Fox said.
Sorry, but actions speak louder than words.