LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach John Fox implied on Monday that quarterback Mike Glennon will start Chicago’s Week 4 prime-time game at Green Bay, but Fox was vague when asked to elaborate on Glennon’s performance (15-of-22, 101 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception) in Sunday’s overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“He wasn’t perfect as far as the mistakes and turnovers, but like everybody out there, they played well enough for us to win,” Fox said.
Fox is technically correct.
The Bears managed to win a game in which Glennon completed 15 passes for 101 yards.
But that won’t work every week, no matter how the defense and special teams perform.
These aren’t the 2005-06 Bears led by Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.
These Bears, under Fox and general manager Ryan Pace, are still rebuilding after losing 10 games in 2015 and 13 games in 2016.
Without question, Vic Fangio’s defense is the strength of the team. But let’s not go overboard. The Bears don’t have a single defensive player who’s been voted to the Pro Bowl. Talent wins in the NFL, and the Bears are still playing catch-up in that department. Also, losing starters Jerrell Freeman (chest) and safety Quintin Demps (forearm) to injuries doesn’t help.
But the defense isn’t the problem. It’s the other side of the ball.
Yes, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has to be conservative because there are no threats at wide receiver -- the Bears had one completion to a wide receiver in Week 3, and it came with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Yes, the Bears have to -- at all costs -- protect the football because they are simply not good enough to win games if they lose the turnover battle.
That being said, Glennon has to play better. The Bears have to -- at the very least -- give the illusion they can occasionally challenge a team downfield.
Look at Sunday’s numbers.
Glennon attempted only four passes that traveled 10 or more yards downfield versus the Steelers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. One was complete to Zach Miller, three were incomplete, and two of those three were negated by penalty.
After halftime, Glennon did not attempt a single pass 10 or more yards downfield. His longest throw traveled just 9 yards.
Via ESPN Stats & Information, Glennon has attempted two passes (1.9 percent) that traveled 20-plus yards downfield this season, fewest in the league -- these numbers do not include any passes that may have been negated by penalties.
The league average for quarterbacks is 9.8 passes (10.4 percent) of 20-plus yards downfield through three weeks. New England’s Tom Brady and Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer each have attempted 21 such throws in 2017.
Glennon’s 5.51 air yards per attempt are second-fewest in the league; only Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (5.33) is lower.
None of those statistics bodes well moving forward. The Bears can’t expect to rush for 200-plus yards every week. The quarterback position will eventually have to win some games.