LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains rode the line Thursday between optimistic and realistic in his first meeting with the media since the change at quarterback.
On the one hand, Loggains had a hard time hiding his enthusiasm for Mitchell Trubisky, who takes over for demoted quarterback Mike Glennon. Trubisky’s first NFL start on Monday night will come faster than the Bears’ brass had hoped, but that doesn’t mean the No. 2 overall selection won’t be ready.
"He's as close to ready as any rookie I've ever been around," Loggains said.
Of course, Trubisky isn’t a cure-all, either. When head coach John Fox announced the change this week, he emphasized that Glennon — though benched for “performance issues” — was not the only problem with the team right now.
Loggains doubled down on that theme Thursday, noting that “the other 10 guys on the field need to do their jobs” as well.
“Mitch Trubisky is a very good, young player,” he said, “but he is not a magic wand. We need to play better around him."
Still, the longer Loggains spoke, the more excited he was.
“Obviously, I’m a huge Mitch Trubisky fan. I believe in him. I think he’s going to be a special player,” Loggains said. “I just want to do my part in the whole thing and help him and get the other guys to play well around him, because I do think he’s very capable of playing at a high level.”
Instead of calling plays to protect Glennon’s limitations, Loggains now can cater to the rookie’s strengths, which include a live arm and far better athleticism than what Glennon offered.
Clearly, turnovers were Glennon’s undoing; he gave the ball away eight times in his four starts, with six of those turnovers coming in the first halves of the road losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. He also was sacked eight times and didn’t complete a pass longer than 29 yards.
Trubisky has elevated quickly. The clear No. 3 quarterback behind Glennon and Mark Sanchez to open training camp, Trubisky struggled in his first padded practice in August, fumbling three snaps from center. A month later, Trubisky shined in the preseason, but it wasn’t clear if he would be the backup. And one month later, he’s now preparing to make his regular-season debut against a Vikings defense stacked with talent on all three levels.
But tight end Zach Miller — the recipient of that 29-yard catch and the team’s third-leading receiver — thinks Trubisky starting means that the Bears’ offense can open up.
“I think Mitch brings a little more mobility, some things he can do outside the pocket that can give us another dynamic,” Miller said. “I think he’s extremely accurate. His ball flight is nice. When you’re running and you see that ball flying through the air, it’s hard to explain. The path of that ball is good for a receiver.”
Part of what made Trubisky so exciting in the preseason was his arm talent, yes, but also his ability to throw accurately on the move. Plus, he ran five times for 48 yards, as defenses that sagged on him found out about the rookie’s athleticism that might have been a bit undersold coming out of North Carolina.
Loggains is now 20 games into his tenure as offensive coordinator, and Trubisky will be his fifth starting QB — a fact he made sure to point out Thursday. But Loggains’ point was that he clearly is comfortable switching gears and calling games differently with a completely different style of thrower.
“His skill set is different than [Glennon’s],” Loggains said. “Mike was your prototypical dropback passer. Mitch does things differently, and we’ll obviously put him into situations he feels more comfortable with."
Loggains pointed out that there might be no better off-script quarterback who uses his mobility to extend plays than the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. It’s an aspect of the Green Bay offense that makes the Packers so difficult to defend, and it’s the kind of element Loggains would love to add to the Bears’ offense — even if there are drawbacks that come with it.
“There’s no secret wideouts love that stuff,” he said. “All of a sudden it’s street ball.”
The Bears might be leery of turning their turnover-prone offense with a veteran at the helm into a free-for-all with a rookie at the trigger. But they also know they had to make a change, and Loggains said they’d rather cater to Trubisky’s strengths than to try to reel him in.
“Any time a quarterback can use his legs and can buy him[self] some time and extend plays, even when the reads aren’t clear, even if you get fooled on a coverage,” Loggains said. “The ability to buy time is something that definitely helps a young quarterback.”