I’m not big on conspiracy theories. I don’t believe that the remains of space aliens are locked in refrigerated drawers in New Mexico, that a shadow government is actually running the country or that there was a second shooter, unless you’re talking about Scottie Pippen when Michael Jordan was double-teamed.
But I’ll admit to some paranoid thinking Saturday night. Mike Glennon was portraying a kind-of quarterback for the Bears in a preseason game, handing off to running backs and throwing short passes that were so safe, they came with stoplights and crossing guards. This continued for quite some time, and as it did, the analytical, non-conspiratorial me began to have dark thoughts.
The Bears wouldn’t take all the risk out of their offense just to defuse a quarterback controversy, would they? They wouldn’t try to make Glennon look good in a very controlled setting so that the public pep rally for Mitch Trubisky would die out, right? RIGHT?!
The Bears are not comfortable with the idea of Trubisky as their starter just yet, and it’s hard to blame them for their caution. If the team is going to be as bad this season as many people believe it will be, there’s no sense in allowing a rookie quarterback to be relieved of his confidence and various body parts in Week 1.
Coach John Fox had spent the week after Trubisky’s excellent preseason debut (103.1 passer rating) trying to hose down some of the ardor that the Bears fan base had worked up for the second pick overall in the 2017 draft. It didn’t work, but he tried.
That’s why, when Glennon came out throwing dinky passes to his teammates Saturday night in Arizona, I started to wonder if Fox and general manager Ryan Pace had conspired to take the peril out of the game plan for their starting quarterback. Glennon had looked bad in his debut with the Bears, throwing a pick-six against the Broncos. If the plan is to bring the rookie along slowly, they really needed the veteran to look like he belonged on an NFL field Saturday night. Did that bring on the coddling of Glennon, via a soft game plan?
And then Glennon threw a bad interception, which either proves there was no conspiracy or that the government can’t suppress everything. Glennon’s pass on the second-quarter play lacked zip, and Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu easily stepped in front of Bears receiver Kendall Wright to pick it off.
OK, I don’t believe there was a vast conspiracy here. I do believe the Bears very much prefer that Trubisky not be their starting quarterback when they open the season Sept. 10 against the Falcons at Soldier Field. I believe they wanted Glennon to come out of Saturday’s game with his morale intact, and they did everything in their power schematically to make sure he did.
One man’s conspiracy is a general manager’s gentle nudging in the right direction.
Glennon completed 13 of 18 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, and finished with a 78.2 passer rating. Trubisky was six of eight for 60 yards and a touchdown, but his 135.4 passer rating was misleading. One of his passes should have been intercepted but was dropped. He didn’t look nearly as good as he did in his debut, which isn’t a surprise. The Cardinals, who like to blitz, gave him a better idea of what to expect in the NFL.
Trubisky needed to totally eclipse (ding!) Glennon on Saturday. He didn’t. You have to knock out the champion, and Trubisky didn’t do that. And don’t ask me what Glennon is the champion of. But this was the game Trubisky really had to stand out in if he wanted to force the issue with Fox and Pace. Most of the snaps in the third preseason game go to the starting quarterback, and barring some incredible change of heart, the Bears are going to give them to Glennon.
At some point, though, he’s going to have to attempt big-boy passes. He wasn’t very accurate in the Bourbonnais portion of training camp, particularly on long passes. It’s very difficult to hide weaknesses in the NFL, and if Glennon can’t make the throws necessary to move the offense, he will be found out. This is not to pick on the 27-year-old quarterback. The game eventually reveals who you are, the way it did with Jay Cutler.
So, even if the Bears’ decision makers really did conspire to keep Glennon in the starting lineup, it won’t matter in the long run. If he’s not good, he’ll be exposed, eventually.
But, again – and I can’t stress this enough! — I don’t believe there was a conspiracy.
The fake moon landing, on the other hand …