As the Bears prepare to play the most meaningful game they’ve played since the last game of the 2016 season, there is a multitude of intriguing storylines that I will be focusing on and sharing in this article. Think we all know the top story which I will be starting with.
Glennon vs. Trubisky: The Bears would like you to believe this is not a competition between their two Quarterbacks, but if we can see what’s going on you can bet your ass the head decision makers John Fox and Ryan Pace sure as hell see what’s going on. Mitch Trubisky at current is the more dangerous Quarterback on the field for Opponent’s than Mike Glennon is. If Glennon had shown a smidge of competency the Bears would not be at this point. I would not believe the Bears would be giving Trubisky first team reps or even contemplating a possible QB change to start the 2017 season regardless of what Trubisky has done.
If Glennon had shown a smidge of competency the Bears would not be at this point. I do not believe the Bears would be giving Trubisky first team reps or even contemplating a possible QB change to start the 2017 season regardless of what Trubisky has done. I think the Bears truly wanted to start the season with Glennon and have him have a good season, keep Trubisky on the bench learning the offense and how to go about preparing for game day as a pro Quarterback and begin next season completely ready to take over the position. Maybe get some trade value built up for Glennon in the process. Well, that ship has long since sailed. It’s looking more and more like Glennon will have a very short lived stint as the Bears starting Quarterback if having a stint at all.
The Bears are giving the majority of the starter reps to Glennon as they still likely hope Glennon can get his head out of his ass and give them no pause at all in starting him game one versus the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. The entire first half as a matter of fact, however, should Glennon continue on his slide in performance in game situations don’t be surprised to see the Bears make the switch to Trubisky sometime in the first half. If you see that happen or even if you see Trubisky do much better with the first team in the second half you might just see the Bears start the season with a rookie Quarterback at the helm.
Jeremy Langford’s last stand: Langford finally will get some snaps in the preseason after nursing an ankle injury which happens to be the same ankle that knocked him out for the 2016 season and gave than rookie Running Back Jordan Howard a chance to shine and take that starting job away from Lanford permanently. However, he now has a great opportunity to make the roster with a good showing with KaDeem Carey being out for the likely the first 6 games and may even get cut. I personally see him as a 6 game PUP candidate but you never know. The Running Back spot is highly competitive and very deep and the roster spots are valuable.
It’ll also be interesting to see how they divide the reps in what is the season prep, so the Bears aren’t really looking to do players any favors in making the roster. They’re trying to get the team ready to compete in this 2017 season. I don’t really expect to see the Bears give Howard many snaps so this should give Langford some extra tries to impress. I fully expect to see Josh Rounds sit the entire game and get most if not all of the snaps in the meaningless game 4 preseason game. Another item of interest is seeing who between Tarik Cohen and Langford get the next set of reps after Howard. At this point, Cohen has proven he deserves those reps, but Langford is a Pace draft pick and may be given more opportunity than he deserves at this point to make the team.
Secondary play: I think at this point the rotation at the top has been determined. Quintin Demps and Eddie Jackson are your starting safeties and Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper are your cornerback starters, but who falls below from there. I think the competition between Cre’Von LeBlanc and Bryce Callahan has thus far fallen in favor of LeBlanc. He’s been the most prominent player on the field. It’ll also be interesting to see what they do with Kyle Fuller. He has shown he has earned a roster spot and likely next in line should the Bears have an injury to one of their starting cornerbacks or have been benched due to performance issues. In my opinion, he should be a candidate to win the starting Nickel back spot, but it looks like the Bears are firmly convinced LeBlanc and Callahan can handle their duties there.
I am also anxious to see how they set up the reps at safety. As I mentioned earlier Demps and Jackson are your locks as starters. I see no scenario outside of a devastating injury that changes that. However, how does it set up after that? Amos clearly has gotten the most snaps thus far after Demps and Jackson with the first team defense. I think this is an opportunity for Deondre Hall to take over as next man up as a reserve. Both were draft picks and thus have equal time. At this point, I think it’s more a competition of if he makes the team with the likes of Deion Bush and Harold Jones-Quartey rather than competing with Hall for next man up.
Wide Receivers: This is the last opportunity for wide receivers to make an impression. I think it’s pretty obvious who the first 3 guys are by the way they’ve been played in preseason games. Everyone can tell you Kevin white and Cameron Meredith with be the starting Split End and Flanker, but a lot of people seem to be unaware that the starting slot job is Kendall Wright’s. I think a lot of fans and media are expecting it to go to the bigger name in Victor Cruz, but Vicor Cruz is currently on the second team and has not really made a big enough impact to show he’s the guy to supplant the younger more productive Wright. With his not being able to contribute on special teams and roster spots being valuable it’s looking like he’s on the waiver list once the preseason ends and cut down deadlines are met.
Not many teams keep more than two guys who will play the slot exclusively. I also see no scenario Tanner Gentry is not with the Bears. Especially with Marcus Wheaton still healing from a finger injury, and missing almost the entire camp and the entire preseason. Gentry has shown the ability to make plays downfield whether he is open or not. That is a valuable commodity for a Quarterback to have. I also see both Deonte Thompson and Joshua Bellamy making the team. This puts everyone else on the bubble including last season’s camp hero and 7th round pick Daniel Braverman.
Tight Ends vs. Fullback: At the beginning of camp most people thought Zach Miller was a camp cut consideration and even some media members practically guaranteeing his ouster, but that will not happen. Zach Miller and Dion Sims will be the Bears first two on the depth chart. To this point, Adam Shaheen hasn’t shown enough to be relied on as a primary contributor. He’ll be the third stringer and will progress as soon as he shows he can handle more and perform on game days. The real interesting part is will they keep any other Tight End on the 53 man roster to start the 2017 season, or go with a Fullback.
Thus far the Bears have employed a lot of 22 personnel (2 RB/2TE) and 13 personnel (1RB/3TE). So it’s hard to tell which way they’re going to favor. I will say however the other Tight Ends in Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker, and Mycole Pruitt have not distinguished themselves very well in both preseason games. Up until now both Michael Burton and Freddie Stevenson have. Especially Burton who has gotten the first team reps and looks like he’s ahead of Stevenson thus far. It depends on how well the other Tight Ends have practiced because so far in games they’ve not stood out. I will say that Braunecker has blocked well and has been a special teams first team contributor so he may have a leg up on Brown and Pruitt. At the moment I’m leaning they’re keeping a Fullback just as they did last season.
Conclusion: All eyes will be on the Quarterbacks that is no secret. Glennon has a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders and Trubisky has an excellent opportunity to make a big enough impression to put real doubt in the minds of Pace and Fox. I believe if Trubisky shows he can get White involved that’s a huge advantage as Glennon has shown he completely has ignored him and continues to eyeball Meredith unless the play calls for a quick hitter where there are no other options.
He’s missed wide open guys in the process of staring down Meredith and throwing some bad balls to him. He has 2 Interceptions and no touchdowns but could easily have 3-5 Interceptions. Given that Glennon limits you in play calling creativity and is someone who is supposed to be the steady mistake free care taker who does not make stupid mistakes, (and he has been anything but), it’s reasonable to assume Trubisky can easily wrestle the job away from Glennon. I think unless Glennon completely bombs they will start the Atlanta season opener with Glennon, but don’t be shocked to hear Trubisky is splitting reps in practice the week of preparation for game one. If Glennon sucks he will lose his job in the middle of the Atlanta game and be the highest paid backup in the 2017 NFL season.