In hindsight, John Fox couldn’t have played it any better.
The Bears coach wanted to get Mitch Trubisky’s feet wet in Chicago’s preseason-opener against Denver last Thursday, so he inserted the No. 2 overall pick with 1:55 left in the first half. Trubisky executed the two-minute drill to perfection, leading Chicago down the field and throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz.
The hurry-up allowed Trubisky to do, not think. He got in rhythm and finished 18-of-25 for 166 yards and a touchdown. He also ran three times for 38 yards.
It was a good night.
“I’m not a huge fan of John Fox, but I thought the coaching that they did in that game was brilliant,” Chicago 670 The Score host Laurence Holmes said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I wonder if he continues to play well, what happens in the building if the guys on offense look around and go, ‘Well, wait, is Mike Glennon the best choice?’”
Glenn looked awful against Denver, finishing 2-of-8 for 20 yards and a pick-six.
“My only warning is I think that if we’re setting the bar at Mike Glennon and saying Trubisky is better than Mike Glennon, that doesn’t mean that he’s ready to play,” Holmes said. “It just means that he’s better than a guy who hasn’t played in two-and-a-half years.”
Indeed, Glennon, 27, has played in just eight games since 2013. He signed a three-year, $45-million deal with Chicago in March, assuming he’d be the starter.
Then the Bears drafted Trubisky second overall.
Whoever starts for the Bears will have at least two things going for him: a good offensive line and an elite running game with Jordan Howard, who last season finished second in the league with 1,313 rushing yards and 5.2 yards per carry (minimum 150 carries).
“I think guard-to-guard, they’re one of the best in the league,” Holmes said. “They’re very strong with (Kyle) Long, (Josh) Sitton and (Cody) Whitehare played great last year at the center position. But their left tackle, Charles Leno is a guy that I think is serviceable, but I don’t know if you want a serviceable left tackle, especially with a rookie quarterback. So I do think it mitigates it a little bit, and John Fox talked about how they do want to run Jordan Howard more than what they did last year. They didn’t really recognize Jordan Howard until Week 4 of the season.”
Howard averaged 95.8 yards per game over his final 13 games. Only Ezekiel Elliott (108.7) and Le’Veon Bell (105.7) were better in 2016.
Ultimately, though, if the Bears want to win, they need solid play under center. While Trubisky isn’t the starter right now, he could become the starter before – or during – the season.
General manager Ryan Pace would seemingly be okay with that.
“He kind of said ‘Look, if (Trubisky) is good enough to compete, we’re going to let him compete,’ which is a change in stance from, ‘It’s Mike Glennon’s year,’” Holmes said. “The problem that I think Glennon is going to run into is he was the guy at the beginning of camp telling everyone who would listen, ‘It’s my year, it’s my year, it’s my year.’ He got into a scuffle with a USA Today reporter after Thursday’s game who was asking him about things, and it was the same refrain. I wonder if already the pressure of being the quarterback in Chicago is starting to get to him. The heat that Trubisky is bringing down on him with that performance is not going to help things one bit.”
Chicago opens the season at home against Atlanta on Sept. 10. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.