Off-season report card: Chicago Bears
2016: 3-13, 4th in NFC North.
Significant Additions: QB Mike Glennon (FA), QB Mitchell Trubisky (R1), CB Prince Amukamara (FA), WR Markus Wheaton (FA), TE Dion Sims (FA), WR Kendall Wright (FA), S Quintin Demps (FA)
Significant Losses: WR Alshon Jeffery, QB Jay Cutler, DB Tracy Porter, WR Eddie Royal, QB Brian Hoyer, DL Cornelius Washington
From the moment the details of Mike Glennon’s contract with the Bears were released, it became clear that he was the starting quarterback of the moment and not of the future.
At first there were audible gasps across the NFL at the three-year, $45 million deal for the guy who has been a backup the past two years. But in reality, that three-year deal could easily be a one-year, $18.5 million deal that allows the Bears to have a serviceable quarterback for a season at the market rate before cutting bait in 2018.
So in April when the Bears traded up one spot for Mitchell Trubisky, it was evident that Trubisky was the starting quarterback of the future. A top pick may not start the first game of his rookie season (hello, Jared Goff), but he has to be the guy no later than the start of Year 2.
The greatest concern facing the Bears going into the off-season—and there were many—was clearly how the Bears would move on from Jay Cutler. They were active in free agency to get one of the best available quarterbacks in Glennon and were aggressive on draft night to get their top quarterback in Trubisky.
Chicago did the best it could to plug that hole, but now a new issue has cropped up: what the hell happens at that position this summer? Trubisky, the rookie who drives his grandmother’s 1997 Toyota to the facility, knew his place immediately.
“Mike is the starting quarterback and I’m very excited to learn from him and the rest of the veterans on the team,” Trubisky told reporters. “And I can’t wait to help the Bears win.”
Trubisky can learn from Glennon, but he can’t learn how to be a starter in the NFL without first-team reps. How can the Bears balance the practice reps Glennon needs to be functionally good with the offense against the reps Trubisky needs if he’s going to learn how to be the guy this year?
Ryan Pace’s legacy as a general manager and the rest of John Fox’s time in Chicago as head coach is hitched to the rookie quarterback, so Trubisky needs to get on the field. Trubisky playing with the second-team offense will help, but only to a point since a rookie needs to know the speed of the NFL game with first-team players.
“That’s going to be something that this organization is embracing,” Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains told reporters, referring to the rep balance between the quarterbacks. “Obviously the two bosses (Pace and Fox) communicate very well with each other, and obviously I’m a part of that.
“…Everyone that touches the schedule is a part of that. So we’ve got to be really good at assessing where each guy’s at, and I think that’s the biggest key for us: knowing exactly where each guy is at and figuring out and being flexible with reps.”
The Bears have a lot to figure out heading into 2017. Can their defensive backfield get more than the NFL-low 11 takeaways from 2016? Will wide receiver Kevin White, in his first full healthy season, take over Alshon Jeffery’s production along with free-agent pickups Dion Sims and Kendall Wright?