LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Mike Glennon thinks he has a season. He believes 2017 is his. Which means someone should probably get him Case Keenum’s phone number. Or Sam Bradford’s. Or really any quarterback from a frustrated fraternity of veterans who actually thought they had a season of opportunity behind a top-five quarterback draft pick.
Someone tip Glennon as to how this works. Chad Henne? You out there?
Here’s the reality: There’s almost no chance Mike Glennon entrenches himself as the Chicago Bears’ starting quarterback for the entire 2017 season. But that didn’t stop Glennon from stating that he’s been told as much. And he didn’t say it once, mind you. Not twice. Not three times. No, Glennon stated it seven times Tuesday: that 2017 is his season. He said he was told as much by general manager Ryan Pace and that “everyone” is on the same page with that plan.
Given the recent history of the NFL and highly drafted quarterbacks, that’s an eyebrow-raising statement. Maybe even a deft chess move on Glennon’s part, meant to push back on the idea that he’s just a seat-warmer for presumed franchise cornerstone Mitchell Trubisky.
Asked about his shock about the Trubisky selection at No. 2 overall last month, Glennon’s statement felt pointed and calculated. And most certainly aimed at Pace.
“Just like everyone here, I was surprised,” Glennon said. “That’s the bottom line, but it was made clear to me about 10 minutes after from a call from Ryan – and the next morning again – that the 2017 season is my year. That’s all I can worry about. I’m not worried about the future. I’m not worried about the past. I’m worried about the present. And right now, this is my team. That’s where my focus is.”
If there was any ambiguity remaining about that statement, Glennon reiterated his stance six more times in some variation. Most of them crystal clear:
• “To me, I’ve felt nothing but support. Everyone is on the same page. It’s been clear in the building that this year is my year and everyone is on board with that.”
• “As far as I’m concerned, [reps] won’t be an issue at all. I get the [starting] reps and that’s all I know.”
• “This is my year. The meetings are geared around me.”
A foot in the ground doesn’t get much more firm than that. It’s clear Glennon expects the Bears to be his, and his alone, barring a nosedive on his part. And that might happen. But that’s for a later day. Tuesday was more of a preemptive strike. Maybe with history in mind. After all, Glennon has got to know the odds are stacked against him.
He’s working with a set of receivers who appear to be mediocre at best right now. Former first-rounder Kevin White can’t even get into shoulder pads. His defense has holes. Very little of what surrounds him appears to be the stuff of monumental transformation when it comes to bouncing back from a 3-13 season. All of which suggests mediocrity for 2017. And in the NFL, mediocrity breeds opportunity for high draft picks like Trubisky.
While none of us can know what Pace promised Glennon beyond $16 million in guaranteed money, we do know this: The last time a quarterback held off a top-five draft pick for an entire season, it was Drew Brees keeping Philip Rivers on the bench. The same Brees who will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and has passed for 66,111 yards and 465 touchdowns. If Glennon can replicate that, well, we can all forget Trubisky’s name right now.
The reality remains Brees pulled that off 13 seasons ago. And a lot about the NFL has changed in that time. Patience is a relic. Coaching staffs are fired quickly. Many general managers get one shot at a top-five quarterback and it becomes their legacy for better or worse. Look no further than the struggles of Blake Bortles, which essentially helped neuter Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell in the decision-making process.
Taking a quarterback in the top five is either a tipping point or a launching point. And franchises need to figure out that distinction quickly. Which is why in the past 13 years, no top-five quarterback has gone an entire season without starting a game. Even JaMarcus Russell – who entered the NFL third on the depth chart – played in four games and started one. Slugging it out with veterans simply isn’t in the fabric of the NFL when there’s a highly drafted quarterback waiting for his chance.
Glennon has to know this. And if he doesn’t, someone needs to clue him in. Because whatever time he gets is little more than an audition. One that either leaves him on the trade block following 2017 or testing the free-agent market all over again. And if there is any doubt about that, it should have been erased listening to head coach John Fox dance around any realistic commitment to Glennon for even the 2017 season.
Asked if the starting quarterback position would be a competition throughout next season, Fox said, “We use the word competition pretty loosely. I think all of us need to be pushed. I don’t care what our job description is.”
There are holes in donuts that have more substance than that statement.
Asked if the Chicago Bears would like to be committed to their quarterback for the 2017 – and in light of Glennon believing they were – Fox delivered this:
“In a perfect world – which is not very common – I think you’d like to be that at every position. But it’s just not reality.”
That does not sound like everyone being on the same page that 2017 belongs to Mike Glennon. But what about the offense? It is typically shaped around the starting quarterback. Is Chicago’s offense being shaped around Mike Glennon right now?
“Yeah. I mean, we’re just trying to get it shaped to be better than 3-13 for sure,” Fox said. “We still have a lot of work to do and we just kind of take it one day at a time.”
Taking it one day at a time for the rest of 2017. That’s how it starts for veterans who think they have a season of opportunity while the rookies wait. But that’s not how it ends. And no matter what the Bears have Mike Glennon believing, that’s not how it’s going to end for him, either.
When this is all over months from now, the Bears will not have been his team. And they really haven’t been since the No. 2 pick came off the board in April.
More NFL coverage: