Mike Glennon almost penned the perfect storybook ending to his Chicago Bears debut.
After a summer of feeling the heat from a hot-shot rookie running him down on the depth chart, Glennon just needed to put the ball in the end zone one in four tries from the 5-yard-line to take the lead with a touchdown (and a successful PAT). Unfortunately, his teammates didn’t get the memo, as a pair of missed connections and a game-ending sack led to a “close, but no cigar” kind of finale against the Falcons – the sort that has become all-too-familiar during the John Fox era.
This isn’t to take away from what Glennon did in the fourth quarter, after all he quite nearly snatched away a victory from the jaws of defeat. When faced with a 20-10 deficit, Glennon balled out, completing 16 of 24 passes for 147 yards, a touchdown, and a 97.0 quarterback rating on the team’s final two offensive possessions. That’s getting it done in crunch time. But it’s what happened on the seven possessions that came before that fourth-quarter rally that concerns us.
On those first seven possessions, Glennon went 10 of 16 for 66 yards and a 71.4 quarterback rating. That’s simply not going to get it done.
At some point, the Bears need to show progress by winning close games, rather than just being competitive in them. If – and that’s a big if – that’s going to happen, Glennon needs to be willing (and able) to push the ball down the field throughout the game, not just at the end.
One reason the Bears were hanging tough with the defending NFC champs was because Glennon played turnover-free ball. On the other hand, one reason the Bears scored just 17 points is because Glennon rarely threatened with a deep pass. In turn, Falcons defenders to dropped into coverage zones with pass catchers in front of them, took good angles, and brought down ball carriers without yielding much (if any) yards after the catch.
Glennon did a bulk of his work from in close, throwing 34 of his 40 passes from 10 yards and in. He was successful on those attempts (22/34, 155 yards) but he was also predictable, which will only make things easier on opposing defenses in the coming weeks.
The Bears must have some sort of belief that Glennon could be the quarterback who can win a game for them, at least in the short term. Someone high on the decision-making chain has to feel that way after shelling out $18 million in guarantees to move on from Brian Hoyer, who is playing a similar role for the 49ers at a fraction of the price.
Overall, the team that took the field wearing navy from head-to-toe had the look of a squad that could prove to be surprisingly competitive in 2017. But if the offense continues to be as predictable as it was in Week 1, the next 15 games have the potential to be as painfully agonizing as the first one.