Bears quarterback controversy blazing stronger, quicker than expected

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As the old saying goes, the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town because the starter just can’t hack it and fans want to throw someone else into the fire.

After Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Denver Broncos, the backup quarterback in town just got a little bit more popular.

Forget about Mark Sanchez. He’s only the No. 2 quarterback by default, filling that slot because the new rookie in town needs to work his way up the depth chart. Sanchez serves the backup role just fine. He’s good enough to teach and lead and make a few plays if called upon in a pinch, but he’s not the answer at quarterback.

No, this conversation is about the highly-paid free agent Mike Glennon and the highly-drafted rookie Mitch Trubisky.

On the very night that Trubisky was selected second overall, the Bears made clear that Glennon was the starter and that Trubisky would have to bide his time until he was ready to take the reigns of the offense. And yet, no proclamation made by general manager Ryan Pace could deny the inevitability that a quarterback controversy seed was planted that night.

How quickly that seed grew to fruition was the only question fans had in mind. Was the relatively raw Trubisky going to be able to make a quick jump into the NFL? Could the Bears coaches harness his raw talents and transform him into a capable NFL starter?

Based upon his poise and command of the game against the Broncos, that learning curve just got accelerated.

Now, obviously, franchise quarterbacks are not anointed after one preseason game while playing against guys who will be bagging groceries in a few weeks — a nod to the movie Major League II. Trubisky needs to execute with the same level of consistency that he did against the Broncos.

However, I do believe that Trubisky needs to get more reps with the second team next week against the Arizona Cardinals and then — dare I say — split some first-team work with Glennon in the “dress rehearsal” preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.

There was going to be a quarterback controversy regardless of how Glennon fared this season. Anything short of throwing for 300 yards each week and leading the Bears to a winning record was going to have fans calling for Trubisky. The deck was stacked against Glennon from the moment Trubisky’s name was called on draft night.

But given how poorly Glennon and the first-team offense played against the Broncos, that controversy sprouted up overnight into a full-blown fire.

The Bears have always held the belief that the job was Glennon’s to lose until the rookie was ready to play. If Trubisky can string together a few more solid performances and even get some action with the first string this preseason, and if the offense continues to flounder under Glennon’s tutelage, I think the Bears will find that Trubisky is far more ready to play — and sooner — than they had expected during the offseason.

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