Clausen as the Starter? Not Likely. But Not as Unlikely as People May Think.


Some will deride the suggestion that Jimmy Clausen (above) could compete with Jay Cutler for the starting quarterback job despite John Fox‘s suggestion that there will be an “open competition” (via John Mullin at And I’m not laying money on Clausen, either, because Cutler’s got more physical talent. But I think some may be underestimating Clausen.

Clausen started for the Panthers in 2010, the year he was drafted, and performed poorly. He didn’t see the field after that until last year when he mopped up in 3 games (at least two of which were utter disasters when he got his chance). He got one start in game 15 last year where he performed better than his statistic indicated (his passer rating was only 77).

What would you have said about former Bear Josh McCown before 2013? Perhaps its more than a coincidence that when surrounded with very good skill position talent and with decent protection he bloomed. And perhaps it’s more than a coincidence that when he lost that talent, he fell apart. Isn’t it possible that Clausen is every bit as good and will show more with decent talent around him?

I’m by no means convinced that a mediocre quarterback who did all of the right things couldn’t be every bit as good as Cutler or better. Food for thought.

Admittedly its based upon only one start, but Clausen looks to me like the kind of guys who might, maybe, bloom late. I’ll be interested to see. There’s always the remote possibility that if the coaches decide that they can win with him, they’ll go with Clausen over Cutler just for the intangibles and because Clausen is so much less mentally fragile. A very remote possibility to be sure. But a possibility.

How Did Jay Cutler Actually Come to Be the Bears Guy in 2015? And Other Points of View.


  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune reports that Bears head coach John Fox will appoint five permanent captains rather than switching every week the way that former head coach Marc Trestman did. There will still be one appointed by Fox every week based upon performance. That sounds like a good idea to me. Those five players (well, four minus quarterback Jay Cutler) will have a better chance of providing real leadership for the team if they’re captains all season.
  • Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears will change their approach to weight-lifting and offseason conditioning. Former general manager Phil Emery was a former strength and conditioning coach who believed in a weight lifting regime that made athletes “more explosive”. This led many fans (including myself) to speculate that there might be more injuries. Fox seems to confirm this as he says that he particularly thinks that the new program will help wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who Fox says seemed “a little nicked” last year with injuries. Jeffery is thought to have struggled with hamstring problems last year.
  • I also thought that what Fox said about cornerback Charles Tillman was interesting. Via Jahns:

    “Fox believes Jennings can play inside at nickel back or outside at cornerback, but said it’s obvious that Jennings is coming off a disappointing season.

    “‘I think Tim will tell you the same thing,’ Fox said. ‘Our biggest thing is to get him to perform better than he did a year ago.'”

    Those don’t sound like the kind of comments that you make about someone you don’t plan to have around next year.

  • Fox is going to start Shea McClellin out at inside linebacker (via Johns). Campbell and Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune seemed surprised to learn that McClellin won’t be tried on the outside first. I think many Bear fans would agree but I don’t. There’s a logjam at the position the way it is and I think I’ve seen enough of McClellin’s pass rush skills – in both a three and a two point stance – to think that probably isn’t the natural position for him that many thought it was for him coming out of the draft. Having said that, Fox did say that he’ll be tried at both spots eventually.
  • Campbell quotes Bears head coach John Fox on the recent signings of several veterans to one-year deals:

    “These guys who maybe didn’t get the huge contracts in free agency, my experience is they have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. They’ve got something to prove, and I’ve had a lot of pretty good one-year deals that have had great success.”

    He’s got a point. Bears fans may remember that Matt Slauson started life as a Bear on such a deal.

  • Well, you can scratch Randy Gregory off the Bears draft list. From


  • Conor Orr on the various proposals to, as NFL Competition Committee co-chairman Rich McKay put it, “make [the extra point] a football play”. They were discussed by the owners for nearly an hour Wednesday, which means that they’re serious about changing it. McKay said that there will be a potential vote on something in May.

    “All the proposals on the table were interesting, but personally, the idea of eliminating the kick altogether is the best option. Imagine the level of strategy needed to consistently score from a difficult distance. Coaches would need to formulate their rosters a bit differently based on the need for more bulk in the trenches or come up with a way of increasing the success rate of passes from that distance (sorry, Seattle).”

    I would agree.

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune on the rule changes at the NFL owners meetings:

    “No team submitted a formal proposal to change the Calvin Johnson rule. Because nobody understands it.”

One Final Thought

Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times on Jay Cutler‘s contract status:

“The Bears did not try to rework Jay Cutler’s contract, the team said Wednesday, two hours after John Fox hinted that they did just that.

“‘I’m not going to get into everything,’ coach John Fox said Wednesday at the NFL annual meeting. ‘Other than, there was ongoing contract talks and it had time limits. That’s all I’ll say.'”

Ian Rapoport at says that that after a meeting with Cutler, without his agent, the Bears left convinced Cutler was their starter.

The bet here is that they offered Cutler the opportunity to get traded out of Chicago but only if he could do something about the contract. He probably said, “No” and at that point, he was a Bear this year. That’s not exactly a “try to rework” the contract, which certainly would cause problems absent his agent, so much as it is getting a feel for what he’d be willing to do if he wants a fresh start somewhere else.

A Realistic Look at the Bears Progress in Free Agency

Hub Arkush at gives his view on the Bears progress in free agency to date:

“[AntrelRolle is old by NFL standards, there’s no other way to spin it. But at 26 and 28, respectively, [PernellMcPhee and [EddieRoyal fill screaming needs in the Bears starting lineup and are more than likely to still be in their primes if the Bears can contend in 2016 or 2017.

“[RayMcDonald is 30 but has been extremely durable, and there is no reason short of additional off the field concerns that he can’t stay in his prime for two, three or four years. Jarvis Jenkins will be 27 in April, Mason Foster just turned 26 and Vladimir Ducasse is 27.

“Jenkins and Ducasse are former second-round picks and McDonald and Foster were threes, and all but Ducasse are certain starters or important rotation players on Day 1.

“With all four players on one-year deals with little or no guaranteed money, the Bears have taken no risk while adding two extra second-round picks and two extra third-round choices.”

I’m open to the idea that the Bears got younger with ascending players… potentially ascending players. But to state that the Bears added “two extra second-round picks and two extra third-round choices”? I can’t buy that.

The Bears added two second-round picks and two third-round choices who didn’t work out. If they had, they would have gotten paid instead of taking one-year minimum benefit prove it deals. They are all four potential starters – at this point three are probable starters. But also at this point mediocre starters overall.  You could potentially include Royal, McPhee and Rolle in that as well.  The Bears are counting on each being better than he was last year.

The hope is, of course, that the Bears can develop or otherwise use the talent that made these players second and third rounders better than their previous teams. Maybe they can. But I’d say that it’s more likely that out of Jenkins, Foster, and Ducasse you might have one that you’ll want to keep at the end of the season. That’s a more realistic result of the Bears progress in free agency to date.