CHICAGO — Mitchell Trubisky’s eye-opening preseason debut didn’t surprise the Chicago Bears.
When people in that organization talk about Trubisky — the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft who completed 18 of 25 throws for 166 yards, with a touchdown pass on his first possession in Thursday’s exhibition opener against the Denver Broncos — they describe traits of a franchise quarterback.
Teammates love Trubisky. They respect how he works. He carries himself with a quiet confidence. His athletic ability and accuracy make him a perfect fit for the bootlegs and action passing game in their offense. Trubisky makes, as general manager Ryan Pace told me before kickoff, “consistent ‘wow’ throws” in practice.” The NFL game didn’t look too big for him Thursday — “and it’s not,” one Bears coach told me afterward. “He’s going to be really good.”
They’re not alone. If I get unprompted texts from people with other NFL teams about something, I usually take that as a sign it’s resonating within the league. It happened with Dak Prescott last year. It happened again Thursday. One NFL scout who watched Trubisky’s debut live said he’d like to see him get some snaps with the starters next time out: “He looks like he’s in control.”
Some of Trubisky’s completions (including the touchdown strike to a wide-open Victor Cruz) were easy. But others, such as a deep crossing route and a dart to Deonte Thompson just before Trubisky got creamed on third-and-18, were NFL stuff — a reminder Trubisky’s accuracy was a primary reason he was the consensus No. 1 QB in the draft among scouts I spoke to.
At the same time, the Bears don’t want to rush their future. They want to trust the process. They know Trubisky needs time to get totally comfortable being in a huddle, taking snaps under center, running an NFL offense, etc. And despite Mike Glennon’s rocky Bears debut Thursday (2-of-8 for 20 yards, with no TDs and a pick-six), they think Glennon has enjoyed a really good camp, has exhibited leadership and clearly has been preparing himself for this moment, after all those years as a backup in Tampa Bay.
That’s why coach John Fox is believable when he says the Bears aren’t going to reorganize the depth chart based on one exhibition game (in which, let’s remember, Glennon got four series against an excellent Broncos defense, while Trubisky played with — and against — second- and third-stringers).
The Bears have said all along Glennon — who will make $18 million in the first year of his contract — is their guy for 2017. They’d love if he took every meaningful snap this season and gave Trubisky time to develop. Even Trubisky reiterated that after Thursday’s game when asked about talk of a QB competition: “Mike’s the starter. This is his team.”
The Bears’ challenge now is managing expectations, which isn’t always easy, but also isn’t entirely a bad thing, since it means a young guy at the most important position is playing well — for a franchise that seemingly has been in a perpetual state of QB upheaval for a couple decades.
Glennon was a good sport in his postgame media session, saying there’s no doubt Trubisky played well and he’ll block out any outside noise about who should start. When I asked him if that’s difficult, given how long he has waited, Glennon said: “I think you can make it difficult if you wanted to. If you’re going to be looking on your phone and getting on Twitter and all that, then yeah. But I won’t do that.”
So his phone will be off for a week?
“I wouldn’t say my phone’s going to be off,” Glennon said, “but if you work for NFL Network, I’m not going to be checking you out.”
Fair enough. As Trubisky said, this is still Glennon’s team. One half and change of exhibition football doesn’t change that, at least not in the short term.
It’s not just fans who saw something Thursday, though. People around the NFL took notice. And that was one early, encouraging sign for a Bears regime that, regardless of its present plans, has clearly invested in Trubisky as the future.
Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.