Ever since head coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace expressed optimism and excitement heading into training camp, things haven’t gone quite as planned for the Chicago Bears.
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee went on the PUP list and had surgery on his right knee, wide receiver Markus Wheaton underwent an appendectomy that could keep him out of action for a while, and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has struggled with the simple task of handling snaps.
And while it’s early in camp and there are a ton of reps to be played on the practice field and in the preseason before games start to matter, these are not the kinds of things you want to be reading about a football team that has lost 23 of its last 32 games in the past two seasons.
But here is a nugget from the Chicago Tribune’s Rich Campbell worth celebrating:
That's a wrap for Bears practice today. No INTs in the session. FWIW (admittedly not much), Mike Glennon's sharpest practice we've seen.
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) July 31, 2017
The Bears had an interception-free practice session, which doesn’t seem like something that should be trumpeted as a success story. But as we pointed out in Bullets, Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars had a five-interception practice to serve as a reminder that things can always be worse. So seeing that the Bears didn’t turn the ball over like crazy – even in practice – is a sight for sore eyes. Hooray!
Ball control should be something Bears quarterbacks should make a high priority in training camp, the preseason, and eventually the regular season. Turnovers were a constant problem for the Bears during Jay Cutler’s time under center. From 2009 to 2016, only five quarterbacks threw more interceptions than Cutler’s 109, and only one player who made at least 80 starts at the position during the last eight years had a higher interception rate than his 3.3 percent. Careless turnovers is one reason the Bears offense never quite reached its potential under Cutler, and Fox and friends are hoping to cut those out of the equation as much as possible with its group of new quarterbacks.
With that in mind, you could argue that Pace and the front office did well this offseason in addressing that area of concern with how they addressed the quarterback position. Neither Mike Glennon nor Trubisky has a big sample size to judge, but neither showed to be turnover prone in their relatively small sample sizes. Glennon has a 2.4 INT%, but has only thrown 630 career passes. Trubisky threw just six picks in his only year as a starter at North Carolina, which comes out to a 1.3 INT% on campus.
Jordan Howard’s breakout rookie season aside, the rest of the Bears offense is littered with questions at wide receiver, tight end, and offensive tackle. All things considered, ball control will be key for an offense with a razor thin margin of error like the Bears appear to have.