Carolina Panthers

Former UNC QB Mitch Trubisky has outplayed Mike Glennon, but will he start for Bears?

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) throws a touchdown pass in his first NFL preseason game against the Denver Broncos.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) throws a touchdown pass in his first NFL preseason game against the Denver Broncos. TNS

Two weeks ago, former UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky made national headlines in his NFL debut – he completed his first 10 passes for the Chicago Bears, threw a touchdown, and largely validated the team’s decision to trade up for him in April’s NFL Draft.

His play got the media and fans alike wondering: could he supplant former N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon as the team’s starter?

Chicago signed Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract this offseason to serve as the team’s starter, even if only temporarily. Never mind that Glennon has only thrown 11 NFL passes since 2014, or that his career completion percentage is less than 60 – he proved, during his four years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that he’s a viable professional quarterback, tossing for twice as many touchdowns (30) as interceptions.

Only the Bears apparently didn’t see the N.C. State product as their signal-caller of the future. That’s where Trubisky comes into play.

mitchtrubisky
Former UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky was selected No. 2 overall in April’s NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Matt Rourke AP

In April’s NFL Draft, the team traded the No. 3 overall pick, a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a 2018 third-round pick to move up one spot to No. 2 overall to select Trubisky. The UNC quarterback was tremendous in his one season starting for the Tar Heels (3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns, six interceptions), but that’s the caveat: his one season starting.

Social media, of course, laughed at the Bears for their foolishness in trading up.

Then Trubisky excelled in Chicago’s preseason opener, and suddenly Bears head coach John Fox didn’t look so silly after all. In fact, the former Carolina Panthers coach looked genius, especially since Glennon imploded (2-of-8 for 20 yards and an interception) while his rookie counterpart took off.

Glennon bounced back the next week (13-of-18 for 89 yards, one touchdown, and one interception), but Trubisky was as efficient as ever (6-of-8 for 60 yards and a touchdown). The game did nothing to quiet those clamoring for Trubisky to start now.

Trubisky finally saw time with the starting offense during Sunday’s night 19-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans, and again he looked the part of the starter. He threw his third touchdown pass of the preseason, a 45-yard bomb that sent social media into a frenzy.

For his part, Glennon played the best he has all preseason, going an efficient 11-of-18 for 134 yards and a touchdown of his own.

The Bears hadh their fourth and final preseason contest on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. Trubisky’s performance this preseason has made for an interesting question: Who will be the Chicago Bears starting quarterback Week 1?

For all he has done in three games, Trubisky will probably still start the season as the backup. He’s even said publicly that this is Glennon’s team, reiterating that message Sunday night.

Chicago’s offensive line is too porous to throw a rookie into the fire like that – remember former No. 1 overall pick David Carr, whose career was ruined after all the beatings he took as a rookie starter for the then-expansion Houston Texans?

To avoid the same thing happening to Trubisky, Fox will likely keep Glennon as his starter … at least at first.

But if Glennon struggles come the regular season and Trubisky is sitting pretty on the bench, don’t be surprised if the former UNC star sees playing time sooner rather than later.

Brendan Marks: 704-358-5889, @brendanrmarks

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