By Robert Zeglinski
He’s no savior. He’s no Messiah. He’s not going to magically fix all of the deeply-rooted problems of a Bears team that’s started 0-2 for the third straight season.
But if he’s the future – if he’s to eventually take the Chicago to the promised land – there are no mincing of words here: it’s time for the Bears to start rookie No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky.
Put aside Chicago’s current Mike Glennon and his three first-half turnovers in a 29-7 defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a second. Forget his approximate 50 yards through three-quarters against the Atlanta Falcons in his “fine” debut of a season opener.
Instead, look at everything through the microscope of what Trubisky means to this franchise. Of what he will ultimately decide for general manager Ryan Pace.
Think about why the Bears seem to be coddling and taking care of Glennon more than they would Trubisky, the player they have so much more invested in. Think about why Glennon seemingly has every excuse already handwritten for him as he makes the same egregious mistakes and is as ineffective on the surface, as a conservative head coach in John Fox once apparently despised in the jettisoned Jay Cutler.
Whatever success the Bears will enjoy in the future – if any – will be on the back of the 23-year-old Trubisky. So what’s the hold up here? What’s the plan with Trubisky? Why is he not being afforded the opportunity to make these mistakes Glennon is making while potentially flashing his talent and learning from said mistakes?
It doesn’t feel like the Fox and the Bears themselves know what’s going on.
“I don’t know that anybody has a crystal ball as to when that is,” said Fox as to when he believes Trubisky will finally start for the Bears.
Whatever’s going on here in this mess, it seems like the Bears are hell-bent on sticking to a preordained plan, instead of adapting on the fly to circumstances as any regular competent organization would do. The original idea was to obviously sit Trubisky for most of the year while Glennon took a beating and/or showcased value for a future trade before the team moved onto its future starter.
Two hapless games in, with the team reeling and Glennon giving them way less than the $18 million the Bears paid for him to be a placeholder, that plan is floating in the wind.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to rationalize exactly why the Bears are so hesitant on inserting Trubisky, so let’s poke holes in any argument they could have.
The first you hear is inexperience. That Trubisky’s 13 college starts somehow preclude him from starting now and taking his mantel.
If that’s the case, wouldn’t you want the young quarterback to step in and start taking his lumps now, to learn from them?
The only way to actually fix inexperience is by playing. By stepping in front of the live bullets of a real game and acquiring first-hand experience. The longer you wait to play the inexperienced Trubisky, the less of a learning curve he has to safely learn on the fly now.
The second argument against playing Trubisky is that if the Bears play him now, they risk stunting his growth. Whether it be due to a poor supporting cast or not being ready to face the adversity an NFL game can offer, apparently the Bears risk everything with Trubisky with an early start.
Tight end Zach Miller alluded to this sentiment as much following the loss to the Buccaneers.
“You’ve seen guys if they get out there and they’re not prepared and they’re not ready to go and things start to go south, it can put a dent in someone’s career. It can hurt them early on,” said Miller.
Though, that logic is inherently flawed in itself.
There is no “ideal time” to start any young player in football, let alone a quarterback. There’s no guarantee Trubisky will have a soft landing regardless of how well you meticulously plan out his beginning. That’s not how it works. There’s always the risk of injury or ruining any player, be it a rookie or 10-year veteran. Anytime anyone steps onto the field, they understand that inherent danger and unknown.
And really, football players, especially high draft picks such as Trubisky, shouldn’t be collector’s items. There’s no use in keeping someone in their packaging and shrink wrap instead of seeing how they play.
The final major point of contention against inserting Trubisky is the second part of the last point: a subpar supporting cast. But do the Bears not possess the parts to allow Trubisky to comfortably grow and ascend?
This argument stems from seeing a Bears receiving corps that currently features Joshua Bellamy and Deonte Thompson as your No. 1 and No. 1 weapons – a sad, uninspiring fact. If the quarterback doesn’t have anyone to throw to, logically he won’t be good, based off of nothing.
What you actually want for any young quarterback such as Trubisky, is for him to be adequately protected immediately by a solid offensive line. More often than not, quarterbacks make receivers better, not the other way around.
In an honest assumption of what matters, the Bears indeed do have a decent enough offensive line to allow Trubisky enough time to go through his progressions and use his athleticism. The Bears have a solid if not exemplary complement of running backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to take pressure off of Trubisky. The defense, buoyed by a solid front seven headlined by Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd, can keep games close enough to where Trubisky doesn’t feel the need to force the issue to win games when he doesn’t have to.
The crucial gist here is that there are enough pieces for Trubisky, the Bears’ collector’s edition of a quarterback, to not have his development completely capitulated. That the ideal time to play him and get him experience is now, while the team is still in a downswing.
Ultimately, Miller had the best assessment of why this decision still looms so large at Halas Hall.
“Everyone is grown up, understands the business of how this works.”
Perhaps the Bears realize the proper decision in this grown-up business very soon. R.
Robert is your guy for all things Bears. Find him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.