Bears betting on Trubisky after busting with Cutler
Fourth in a 13-part series on the opponents the Green Bay Packers will face during the 2017 regular season.
GREEN BAY - No position causes teams to grasp at straws more often than quarterback, which is why the Chicago Bears bet the house, so to speak, on an unproven talent from North Carolina with 13 career starts in college.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Bears decided to make their move on draft night after eight years of enduring Jay Cutler. General manager Ryan Pace traded the No. 3 overall pick, the No. 67 overall pick (third round), the No. 111 overall pick (fourth round) and a third-round pick in 2018 to the San Francisco 49ers in order to move up one spot.
And with the second overall pick, the Bears selected quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
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Despite drafting Trubisky, the Bears are in no hurry to play him immediately after signing a quarterback during free agency. Pace rolled out a three-year, $45 million contract for Mike Glennon, the backup to Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay. The deal includes $18.5 million in guaranteed money and allows the Bears to walk away after the 2017 season without major penalties.
A third-round pick in 2013, Glennon appeared in 21 games for the Buccaneers over the last four years. He started 13 games as a rookie and averaged 201 yards per game with 19 touchdowns against nine interceptions. His career averages are 195 yards per game, 59 percent completion rate and a passer rating of 84.6.
With Glennon out front, Fox and his staff can mold Trubisky at a more reasonable rate and nudge him onto the field when ready. Trubisky does not have to be the quarterback of the present, but the Bears are counting on him as their quarterback of the future.
Here are three things to know about the Bears:
» Cutler out: Aside from Aaron Rodgers, the favorite quarterback of Green Bay Packers’ fans might have been Cutler, a former first-round pick in the 2006 draft. Cutler began his career with the Denver Broncos but spent the last eight seasons with the Bears. During that time he started 13 games against the Packers and put up horrific numbers: 57 percent completion rate, 16 touchdowns against 22 interceptions, 38 sacks taken. The Bears won only two of those games. Rest assured there will be plenty of Twitter jokes about Packers fans missing Cutler.
» No. 1 target: In recent years the Bears’ best offensive weapon has been wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who topped 800 yards in each of the last four seasons. But Jeffery departed during free agency and signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles worth up to $14 million with incentives. Without him, the Bears are yearning for former first-round pick Kevin White to finally show the skills that produced 109 catches, 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns at West Virginia. But White has dealt with serious injury woes during his first two years in the league and appeared in only four of 32 regular-season games. A stress fracture sidelined him for all of his rookie season in 2015; a fractured fibula landed him on IR in 2016. The Bears need him to stay on the field.
» Job on the line: This will be Fox’s third year in Chicago, and he has yet to amass 10 total wins during his tenure. He debuted at 6-10 in 2015, a season that included a win against the Packers on Thanksgiving as quarterback Brett Favre had his jersey retired. But then the Bears sunk to 3-13 last year with only one win after Halloween. The offense was inept thanks to perpetually shoddy quarterback play, and the Bears bet big at that position during the offseason. It’s possible Fox’s future hinges on the shoulders of Trubisky.
Packers schedule glimpse
Sept. 28 vs. Chicago, 7:25 p.m., CBS
Week before: at Atlanta, Sept. 24
Week after: at Dallas, Oct. 8
On the horizon: at Minnesota, Oct. 15
Coach: John Fox (128-112 overall, 9-23 with Chicago, third season with Chicago)
2016 record: 3-13, fourth in NFC North
Scoring offense: 17.4 points per game (28th in NFL)
Total offense: 356.5 yards per game (15th)
Scoring defense: 24.9 points allowed per game (24th)
Total defense: 346.8 yards allowed per game (15th)
Series: Tied 94-94-6
Last meeting: The Packers stormed to a commanding 17-point lead late in the third quarter before nearly choking the game away. The Bears, behind backup quarterback Matt Barkley, scored two touchdowns and a field goal in 12 minutes to tie the score with 79 seconds remaining. But that’s when quarterback Aaron Rodgers heaved a 60-yard bomb to wide receiver Jordy Nelson with the clock melting toward zeroes. Kicker Mason Crosby drilled a 32-yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers the win, 30-27.