Chicago Bears

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the quarterbacks

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the quarterbacks

With training camp starting in just over a week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears position units heading into Bourbonnais. Today’s group: The quarterbacks, which have more questions than answers right now. 

1. When will Mitch Trubisky start his first game?

This will be the central question surrounding the Bears until a date is set for the Quarterback Who Was Promised to start. Will it be this year’s season opener? Unlikely, given the constant reassurances that this is Mike Glennon’s year. Could it be sometime in the middle or end of the season? Probably, if Trubisky picks up Dowell Loggains’ offense quickly and the Bears’ offense is mired in mediocrity. Could it be in 2018? Likely, unless Glennon shows something he didn’t with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and earns a chance to stick around for the second year of his three-year contract. The Bears’ ideal scenario is to give Trubisky plenty of time to develop, so when he does become the team’s starting quarterback, he can immediately thrive. That’s why the Bears committed to at least one year and as many as three years of Glennon a month and a half before drafting their quarterback of the future. 

“I’ve made a lot of progress,” Trubisky said back in June. “I’d say I’m getting better every day. I’m getting a little bit more comfortable every day. I’m studying a lot. I’ve put in more work on this playbook than I’ve put into anything in my life. And yeah, it’s coming along great. I’m getting more and more comfortable. I’ve seen strides in different areas every day.”

2. Who’s the backup?

This is a separate question from the first one, even if the answer to it is Trubisky. There are a couple of mitigating factors here heading into training camp — first, the knee injury Mark Sanchez suffered during OTAs, and second, the fact Trubisky as of Monday afternoon still has yet to sign a contract. Sanchez is expected to be ready for the beginning of training camp, and there haven’t been any alarm bells going off about Trubisky yet with still over a week until the Bears’ first practice in Bourbonnais. But who the team’s backup will be on Sept. 10 is a fascinating question: If it’s Trubisky, does that mean the coaching staff feels he’s ready to start? Or if it’s Sanchez (or Connor Shaw, for that matter), does that mean Trubisky may not see game action until November or December at the earliest? 

“A lot has been made of our quarterback situation, whether it’s Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez or even Mitch Trubisky,” coach John Fox said. “The only guy there that was here a year ago was Connor Shaw. We need to get those guys caught up but we’ve got good competition between guys that are good teammates, good people and they are working very very hard.”

3. What do the Bears have in Mike Glennon?

Let’s put this another way: What if Glennon turns out to be a solid, productive quarterback? It's unlikely a guy who’s only thrown 11 passes since the end of the 2014 season and who wasn’t able to hang on to his job — twice — with bad Tampa Bay teams could be an upper-echelon quarterback, but what if he roughly mirrors Andy Dalton with a low interception total and high completion percentage on a six-win team? Does that earn Glennon another opportunity to start with the Bears, or do they still move on from him after the season to clear the path for Trubisky? This would be a good problem for the Bears to have, of course. On the flip side, how much rope does Glennon get if his numbers are similar to the ones he had in Tampa Bay (59.4 completion percentage, 30 TDs, 15 INTs in 630 passing attempts) and the Bears struggle early in the season? If Glennon gets benched, then we go right back to trying to answer both questions No. 1 and No. 2 here. But the way the Bears have presented their quarterbacks, the Glennon question needs to be figured out before we get any answers about Trubisky.

"I’m here, this is my year, and the meetings are geared around me,” Glennon said. “Am I going to help Mitch as much as I can? Definitely. I’m going to be a great teammate. But my job is to win football games for the Chicago Bears. And that’s where my head’s at.”

Bears-Steelers: Best case, worst case and prediction

Bears-Steelers: Best case, worst case and prediction

The best case scenario

The Bears play like they did in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, only without those two blown coverages and drops near/in the end zone. This means Mike Glennon doesn’t turn the ball over and tries to stretch the field a bit with Markus Wheaton back. And if Glennon can successfully complete some deep balls, perhaps it opens up more opportunities for Jordan Howard to get to the second level of the Steelers’ defense and break off a couple of explosive runs. 

Here’s where it’s worth noting Ben Roethlisberger’s home/road splits from 2016, too:
Home: 70.8 completion percentage, 20 TDs, 5 INTs, 116.7 rating
Road: 59.4 completion percentage, 9 TDs, 8 INTs, 78.4 rating

If last year’s road Roethlisberger shows up, the Bears could have a chance to keep things close, as they did against Atlanta. It’ll come down to whichever team makes the fewest mistakes, and if the Bears can eliminate turnovers on offense and special teams and avoid allowing big-chunk plays on defense, they could have another chance to win at the end of the game. And if they do, they can’t afford more drops near or in the end zone. 

The worst-case scenario

This starts with Glennon turning the ball over and, like last week, the game effectively being out of reach by halftime against a team eyeing a playoff run. Pittsburgh is likely to load the box against Howard and the Bears running game until Glennon proves he can stretch the field, and if he can’t, it could be another long day for last year’s second-leading rusher in the NFL. 

The Bears’ defense may have success rendering ineffective Le’Veon Bell — who’s averaging only 3.2 yards per carry in two games — but the Antonio Brown/Martavis Bryant/JuJu Smith-Schuster trio presented a difficult challenge for the secondary. That challenge will become even more difficult if the defense has to deal with sudden-change and short-field situations. 

Prediction: Steelers 31, Bears 16

Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?


Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?

Prince Amukamara (ankle) is expected to make his 2017 regular season debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers after being a full participant in practices Thursday and Friday (he wasn't listed on Friday's injury report). But that leads to the question: What does defensive coordinator Vic Fangio do with Kyle Fuller?

Fuller acquitted himself well in starts against the Atlanta Falcons — in which he helped limit Julio Jones to four catches on five targets — and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears signed Amukamara to start opposite Marcus Cooper, but Fuller has at least earned the opportunity to keep his job — or a job — on Sunday. 

And it's worth noting that both Fuller and Amukamara are in contract years, so both should be motivated to not lose playing time going forward. 

“I was pleased with the waay Kyle played overall,” Fangio said. “There's obviously some plays he'd like to do over and play them a little better, but overall I thought he did a good job. I like where he's at right now.”

Fangio didn’t play Fuller as a nickel corner in 2015. But if the Bears want to get their best defensive players on the field could Fuller force his way into a nickel role with Amukamara and Cooper as the outside guys? 

That’s an especially pertinent question given Pittsburgh’s explosive trio of receivers: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

“No matter where a receiver lines up, it’s not going to be a down to take off,” Amukamara said. “We’re always going to have to have our ‘A’ game.”