The Chicago Bears held a walk-through inside the Walter Payton Center on Wednesday as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Bears coach Matt Nagy said they kept the practice light as they try to preserve players’ bodies late in the season.
Here are three things we learned from Nagy, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and Bears players during calls Wednesday.
1. Mike Glennon could face his former team — if he wins the Jaguars’ quarterback competition this week.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said he plans to study how veteran Mike Glennon and second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II are operating in practice this week before he names a starter for Sunday’s game. They will split first-team reps until he makes his decision.
Although Jaguars fans want the team to tank to secure the right to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at No. 1, Marrone has made it clear he’s trying to get his team out of its 13-game losing streak. Part of that has involved cycling through his quarterbacks, with Minshew starting eight games, Glennon starting three and rookie Jake Luton starting three this season.
On Nov. 29 against Cleveland, Glennon made his first NFL start since the fateful October day in 2017 when he committed four turnovers against Green Bay as the Bears quarterback. The Bears benched Glennon for rookie Mitch Trubisky the next week and cut Glennon at the end of the season. Glennon has bounced around as a backup from the Arizona Cardinals to the then-Oakland Raiders to the Jaguars, where he started three games but was benched again in the middle of the third for Minshew. He threw three touchdown passes and three interceptions in those games.
Minshew started last week in a 26-point loss to Baltimore, and now Marrone is considering his options again. He said it didn’t cross his mind that Glennon might have added motivation facing the team that signed him to a $45 million deal and then drafted his replacement seven weeks later.
“I’m just trying to figure out what the best thing is for us to do,” Marrone said. “We’ve tried to do a bunch of things. We’ve gone through a lot of quarterbacks here the last couple of years. Right now, we’re not playing well at that position.
“Rather than making a quick decision and saying, ‘Hey, he’s going to be the guy,’ and then practice goes and it’s not what you want to see ... let’s go out there and feel who gives us the best chance to win with the plan we have in place, and we’ll go with that player.”
Glennon isn’t the only Jaguars-Bears connection this week. The Jaguars drafted Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson in 2014. And Bears backup Nick Foles is one of several players who have contributed to Marrone’s three-year headache at quarterback after going 0-4 with them last year. The Jaguars traded Foles to the Bears for a fourth-round pick in the spring, part of a dizzying circle of quarterback mediocrity between the two teams.
Glennon was benched for Trubisky, who was benched for Foles, who was benched for Trubisky and Minshew, who might be benched for Glennon.
At least the Bears can claim the quarterback in that cycle who currently is operating smoothly, with their offense averaging 386.5 yards per game over their last four. Marrone called Trubisky streaky and said, “Right now, he’s on a pretty good streak.”
“When you look at Mitch Trubisky, you can see he can make all of the throws and you can see he does well in the play-action game when he’s on the move,” Marrone said. “These are the things he’s doing well, and he’s put in these manageable situations, and I think when you do that with this type of quarterback, then all of the sudden he becomes more dangerous.”
2 . Matt Nagy said Roquan Smith’s Pro Bowl snub was ‘not right.’
The Bears had two players named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl team team on Tuesday night: outside linebacker Khalil Mack and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson.
Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t hide his disappointment that linebacker Roquan Smith was not invited.
“This guy leads the NFL in solo tackles and he leads linebackers in tackle for loss,” Nagy said. “I don’t think anything else has to be said. I could go on and on about that one. I’m going to leave it just at that. This guy is an absolute stud, and for him to be left off is simply not right.”
In a standout third season, Smith has a career-high 128 tackles, including 89 solo tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, four sacks, six quarterback hits, five passes defended and a forced fumble.
He has consistently been one of the best players on the Bears defense, and Mack was in agreement with Nagy that Smith deserved the honor.
“I wish I could give him my bid,” Mack said. “At the end of the day, Roquan is a special, special player and a special person. Not only is he doing his job, but he’s helping others do theirs by communicating. And just seeing the growth as a player on the field and communication and putting us in the right places, getting calls out, it’s special to see. It’s crazy, but understanding that he’s having a hell of a year is enough.”
The Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner and the San Francisco 49ers’ Fred Warner are the NFC representatives at inside/middle linebacker.
3. Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine remained out of practice Wednesday.
Cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) and Buster Skrine (concussion) missed the Week 15 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and they also were listed on the Bears injury report as non-participants in Wednesday’s walk-through.
Also sitting out Wednesday were defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (ankle), kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson (knee), safety Deon Bush (foot) and tight end Demetrius Harris (foot).