It only took one rep for Mitch Trubisky to botch a snap under center. And it only took one practice for Bears head coach John Fox to face questions about when the No. 2 overall pick will be ready to unseat anointed starting quarterback Mike Glennon.
Yes, the Mitch Trubisky era is officially underway. Put your seatbelt on.
Day 1 went exactly as you’d expect. An enormous media gathering showed up at Halas Hall — including ESPN and the NFL Network — to watch the quarterback throw to receivers he’s never seen before. With zero pass rush and no pads on, Trubisky lived up to the scouting report. His footwork was good, his accuracy was on point and his lack of comfort under center was evident.
Trubisky bobbled his first snap with assistant equipment manager Carl Piekarski and his first snap with center Mark Spelman, who is just a tryout player.
“It’s not gonna be perfect every time,” Trubisky said. “We’re out here playing with guys we’ve never played with before … So I’ve been getting a lot of snaps with those guys, just to make sure we build that chemistry.”
Of course, therein lies the absurdity of overreacting to anything that occurs at rookie minicamp, as Trubisky’s chemistry with the assistant equipment manager probably matters more than the chemistry with the actual center he was working with Friday. Piekarski will be here all season.
“I don’t know that we’re quite ready after one practice to define (Trubisky’s) career,” Fox said.
Of course, that won’t slow down the eagerness of the media and fans who will be watching every botched snapped and incomplete pass. Let’s just hope no one was keeping stats Friday. What matters is that Trubisky showed off both his talent and his inexperience in his first official practice. Expect much of the same going forward.
“You can tell first round quarterback talent when you see it,” undrafted wide receiver Tanner Gentry said after Friday’s practice. Gentry would know. He played at Wyoming with quarterback Josh Allen, who many believe would have been a first round pick this year had he entered the draft. Allen is already considered by some to be the No. 1 quarterback in 2018.
“Out here with Mitch today, there were a lot of similarities,” Gentry said. Lucky for the wideout, he is one of the few at minicamp who is under contract and has a chance to stick around with the rookie quarterback.
In 11 days, when OTAs begin, Trubisky will be able to get on the field with his actual team and further develop the chemistry that matters. At this point, he hasn’t even met the other quarterbacks, as his interactions with Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez and Connor Shaw have been limited to text messages.
“I’m looking forward to meeting (Glennon),” Trubisky said. “But I’ve been talking to him, and he says it’s a great time to be in because we’re all learning the playbook together. They’re anxious to get out there with me and just go to work.”
In many ways, the high level of scrutiny is fair. After all, Trubisky was drafted No. 2 overall by an organization that has struggled to solve their quarterback situation for decades. It’s completely understandable to wonder when Trubisky will see the field because it’s going to happen at some point, maybe even in 2017.
The Bears, of course, have crafted a smart message: Mike Glennon is the starter and, in a perfect world, the Bears will win games in 2017 with Trubisky developing on the sidelines.
But such a perfect world seems unlikely for this franchise, especially coming off a 3-13 season. The Bears haven’t had their No. 1 quarterback start all 16 games since Jay Cutler did it in 2009.
And, as Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh pointed out to Fox Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles spoke a similar game last year with Carson Wentz, who was supposed to develop behind Sam Bradford. By Week 1, Wentz was the starter and Bradford was in Minnesota.
“You can’t predict what’s going to happen week-to-week,” Fox said. “I could say something, but the reality is I can’t read the future so we’re just going to compete everyday and see where it falls.”
As smart as it is for the Bears to declare Glennon the early starter, it’s also smart to leave the door slightly open for Trubisky. What if Glennon gets hurt? What if Trubisky is actually better? What if another Teddy Bridgewater situation occurs and some team is suddenly offering draft picks for Glennon?
That last scenario might be far fetched, but the point is, the Eagles had no idea when they traded up to No. 2 for Wentz that they’d manage to get their 2017 first round pick back in exchange for Bradford. Fox is correct in saying he “can’t read the future,” because no one really knows how the Bears’ quarterback situation is going to play out over the next few months. Remember, Glennon is new too, and he hasn’t started a game since 2014.
It might not be an “open” quarterback competition, but Fox has preached the need for competition at every position every day and that is what general manager Ryan Pace has provided in the quarterback room.
Now the challenge is on Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to get Trubisky enough reps in practice. Once the regular season begins, the starter typically takes almost all of the reps, meaning the offseason program, training camp and preseason will be crucial as Glennon, Sanchez and Trubisky fight for reps.
“We’re going to look at every different avenue,” Loggains said when asked if the Bears might hold longer practices to accommodate the quarterbacks. “Those are things that we’re going to have to look at and look into. We’re still playing with a couple ideas.”
The Bears are keeping an open mind because they don’t know how this is all going to play out. They just believe they have a more talented quarterback room with greater upside than they had a year ago.
As for the botched snaps, that’s the least of Trubisky’s worries. That’s what Day 1 of rookie minicamp is for.