Roster turnover has definitely been a common thread throughout the Chicago Bears’ offseason. After all, their’s is a roster that at one point featured the most free agent signings since the start of the NFL’s new calendar year, as well as five new additions via the Draft. All the fresh faces at Halas Hall have left a certain amount of uncertainty for the Bears in 2017 … and beyond.
Yet, an argument can be made that the biggest question surrounding the team doesn’t necessarily have to focus on any one player.
Over at NFL.com, Elliot Harrison diagnosed the biggest question for each of the NFL’s 32 teams at this point of the offseason, and for the Bears, there was quite a surprise. According to Harrison, the biggest questions for Chicago revolve around offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and how he handles the new-look quarterback room.
Coming into the 2016 season, the Bears were rolling with Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley, with Connor Shaw on the outside-looking-in (after suffering a broken leg in the third preseason game). Fast forward to 2017, and Shaw is joined by three new faces with Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez, and Mitch Trubisky. So not only did the Bears address the position (by means of signing a veteran starter and backup) they also produced a possible long-term solution in drafting Trubisky with the second overall pick in the first round.
However, this has opened up a whole new round of questions and concerns.
The Bears are fortunate, in a sense, to have experienced players like Glennon and Sanchez around, so Trubisky can develop at his own pace. However, both Glennon and Sanchez are new to the Bears, so they’ll have some catching up to do of their own. Then again, so does the lone returning quarterback, Shaw, who spent the entire season on injured reserve. So technically, we’re talking about four quarterbacks who have a lot of learning left to do this summer.
Because all four are new to the situation, Harrison suggests that each of the Bears’ quarterbacks need increased reps in practice to perform at their best when the games actually matter. With Glennon as the clear cut No. 1 player on the depth chart, it would make sense to see him project to get up to 90 percent of the snaps. But that leaves Trubisky in a tough spot in the growing process. How can he develop if Glennon is taking the vast majority of snaps? A lesser, but still valid/viable concern surrounds Sanchez, the backup who projects to be next man up if Glennon goes down. How is he supposed to learn the offense and spread his wisdom as a backup if he’s not going to get enough snaps and will be sharing with a rookie?
Although, perhaps Sanchez’s understanding of Loggains’ offense should be the least of the Bears’ concerns. After all, he’s only in Chicago on a one-year deal at a bargain basement price. But let’s allow ourselves to concede that Sanchez’s value is really as the cagey veteran who can help show the kid quarterback the ropes. If this is the case, how can Sanchez do this in a productive manner if he, himself, is on the same learning curve as the player he is supposed to be mentoring?
These are questions Loggains needs to answer. The Bears’ quarterbacks room is a puzzle, and the only way to solve it is by delegating snaps in a way that helps the franchise in both the short and long term – needless to say, this won’t be easy.
In his second year in this capacity, Loggains finds himself fighting a two-front battle. Head coach John Fox is going to want his veterans (Glennon, Sanchez) up to speed as soon as possible, but GM Ryan Pace has his eyes on the big picture, so he’ll want to see Trubisky get a fair share of reps, too.
All the while, Loggains will need to orchestrate a bounce-back year of his own. If you recall, Loggains took over for Adam Gase, when he left to take the Miami Dolphins head coaching job after his only year in Chicago. And then, the Bears’ offense took a step back – starting with quarterback Jay Cutler, who thrived in his lone season working with Gase. Obviously, there’ll be a lot thrown at Loggains this coming season, so we’ll have to see how he handles the challenges coming his way. But remember, his efforts/success might be among the Bears’ most crucial components for next season.