When Mitch Trubisky’s name was read by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell amongst a chorus of boos from fans in Philadelphia Thursday night, fans in Chicago — for a very different reason — were voicing boos of their own.
Bewildered by general manager Ryan Pace’s decision to unload four draft picks in order to move up the draft board one slot — from Pick 3 to 2 — Bears fans were stunned when the North Carolina quarterback was announced.
And just like that, after only weeks of uncertainty about who would take over the reigns as the new face of the Chicago Bears when veteran Jay Cutler was cut loose, the Bears have found their future.
And yet the future is now.
No, this does not mean I believe Trubisky will start on Day 1 of the 2017 season. In fact, the organization has already declared otherwise. Pace reconfirmed late Thursday night that veteran Mike Glennon, who signed a three-year deal at the outset of free agency, would be the starting quarterback of the Bears.
But that doesn’t matter in terms of whose team this is. When Trubisky’s name was called on draft night, Glennon may not have lost his starting job but he certainly maintained his role as “bridge quarterback” to the future. That’s what Glennon’s role was when he signed as a free agent and it did not change with the selection of Trubisky.
Glennon is a caretaker who will be keeping Trubisky’s seat warm. Trubisky is the apprentice who will be learning his craft at the NFL level. When Trubisky is ready to play, he’ll lay claim to the job that was declared his on Thursday.
How the Bears landed Trubisky will be the hottest topic in Chicago for quite some time.
While attending the Bears Draft Party at Soldier Field, the disdain inside the United Club was so palpable, I could feel it in my bones. As soon as the NFL Network switched the “On the Clock” team from the 49ers to the Bears, the room erupted in disbelief. When Trubisky’s name was called, it turned to frustration. And when the details of the trade were announced, it was downright pandemonium.
My first reaction was exactly in line with what other Bears fans were feeling: Pace gave away too many picks to move up one draft slot. How does four picks for one slot translate to anything but failure?
But after letting the emotion simmer for a bit and after digesting what had happened Thursday night, I am now more confident than ever that the Bears not only got the right quarterback, but at the right price as well.
Could it be possible — as many Bears fans are clamoring — that new 49ers general manager John Lynch played Pace as a fool, lied to him about a second team showing interest in that second pick in order to take Trubisky, and then siphoned three extra picks from Pace?
Yes, it is possible. No, it is not probable.
I’m fairly certain there was at least one team that wanted to leapfrog the Bears in order to take Trubisky, and Pace did what he had to do to prevent that from happening.
It tickles me that many Bears fans are so sure about draft pick value before these rookies even set foot on an NFL field. No, all that fans see is that four is greater than one and that moving up one slot seems trivial at best.
Some will claim that the 49ers had no interest in Trubisky and that had the Bears stayed put at Pick 3, they could have gotten Trubisky for free.
Yes, it’s likely true the 49ers were not interested in Trubisky. But if you were in Pace’s shoes and you were told that one or more teams were interested in leapfrogging you to take the guy whom you most coveted, what would you do?
It’s easy to shrug it off and say, “I’d have just scratched him off the list and picked my next best available.”
But what if Trubisky pans out? What if he becomes a Pro Bowler and leads the Bears to many playoffs to come? Would the trade look so outlandish then?
What if Trubisky, dare I say, leads the Bears to that elusive second Super Bowl title at some point in his career? Would you not look back at what the Bears gave up for him and laugh about your draft day concerns?
“Yeah, sure. Trubisky is really going to lead them to a title,” you scoff. “The guy has started 13 games. How is he going to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl championship?”
That may be true. But we don’t know what kind of pro he will be. Nobody does. Not even Pace himself.
But consider this reality: Pace essentially acknowledged that Trubisky will be the player that defines the GM’s tenure with the Bears. He metaphorically got down on one knee and proposed to Trubisky, saying, “will you be my quarterback, for better or worse, in wins and losses, through touchdowns and interceptions, til firing do we part?”
He then added, “I don’t have a ring for you, but I’ll slip one on your finger when you win me one.”
Pace and Trubisky are like Jerry Angelo and Jay Cutler — until they divorced and Cutler married Phil Emery. They are like two oxen yoked together. As they go, so goes the franchise.
With all that said … do you really think Pace would have made such a bold move, knowing his career was on the line, if he didn’t think Trubisky was the guy he wanted to be professionally linked to for the prime — if not all — of his career as general manager?
The answer is no. He wouldn’t.
Thus, if Pace believes in Trubisky, and we believe in the moves that Pace has made through two seasons so far, we must also believe that the Bears have something in the making here.
At the very least, we cannot determine if the Bears made a good or bad trade until Trubisky sets foot on the field and begins his career as Bears starting quarterback.
Until that day comes, it’s best to reserve judgment and watch how things play out.
But with every Glennon incompletion, interception, or Bears three-and-out, the chorus of boos for Trubisky on draft night slowly start to become calls for the future.