Bears training camp snapshot: Quarterbacks

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by The Benjamin, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    SCOTT STRAZZANTE / CHICAGO TRIBUNE
    Bears quarterbacks Jay Cutler (6), Jimmy Clausen (8), David Fales (12), Jerrod Johnson (4) and Jordan Palmer (2) during minicamp at Halas Hall.

    By Dan Wiederer, Tribune reporter

    7:43 pm, July 16, 2014
    With Jay Cutler the undisputed No. 1 quarterback, the drama in Bears training camp will be the backup battle between Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer.

    Biggest offseason developments:The Bears signed Cutler to a seven-year, $126 million extension with $54 million guaranteed. The team did not make an effort to re-sign Josh McCown, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Buccaneers in March. The Bears drafted David Fales in the sixth round in May and signed Jimmy Clausen off the street in mid-June.

    What to like: It's hard not to like the confidence and comfort Cutler is feeling heading into the season. Everything he ever has wanted from the Bears has been put in place.

    Long-term contract stability: Check.

    Pro Bowl playmakers all around him: Check.

    A united and reliable offensive line: Check.

    But more than all that, Cutler finally has continuity in a system, a play-caller in Marc Trestman he seems totally in tune with and a voice to help tailor the Xs and Os to his strengths.

    The benefits of all that cannot be overstated.

    Coordinator Aaron Kromer has talked about the problem-solving skills Cutler has sharpened in the Bears offense. And as the quarterback's familiarity with the system grows and his understanding of the concepts and plays deepens, Cutler should exhibit greater certainty at the controls.

    Trestman's offense, after all, is designed so every concept and every play has go-to options but also easy-to-process fallback plans based on coverages and the looks of the defense.

    Heading into his ninth season, Cutler isn't taking for granted the value of familiarity within the offense.

    "It is problem solving," he said. "After you do it a few years, you know what the answers are already. You're not guessing. You know where guys are going to be. You know what the calls are. You know why the call came in, you know what you want to get to if there is a problem. We're going in that direction."

    Cutler is also all-in on the direction Trestman has taken things with creating a unified locker room and a demanding yet comfortable work environment.

    "You can ask anybody," Cutler said, "if they like where they're working, they like who they're working with and the atmosphere that they're in promotes good ideas and promotes any idea no matter if it's good or bad, anybody's going to enjoy that atmosphere."

    Preseason questions: If Cutler gets injured — and he has started all 16 games once in five seasons as a Bear — then what?

    In March, after letting McCown walk away, the Bears insisted Jordan Palmer had everything they needed to become the team's backup. Emery made note of Palmer's intelligence and upside. Trestman praised Palmer's work ethic and later asserted the 30-year-old had earned the first opportunity to claim the No. 2 job.

    But in May, the Bears drafted Fales with an eye on molding him into a long-term backup. A month later, they signed Clausen to heighten the competition. Palmer also suffered a minor pectoral strain that limited his participation during two weeks of organized team activities, further weakening his grip on the No. 2 job.

    So now a trio of backup hopefuls will enter a competition caldron at camp.

    Palmer has the most familiarity with the offense. Clausen has 10 career starts — albeit lackluster ones as a Panthers rookie in 2010 — and a hunger to find his new NFL niche.

    Fales offers plenty of upside but initially may slot into the No. 3 role as he continues his development under Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. With that, it seems iffy at best that both Palmer and Clausen will make the final cut.

    And don't forget, the Bears won't be evaluating on-field performance exclusively. Trestman has talked at length about the value of a backup who understands how to bring positive energy to the quarterbacks room, offering a steadying support system for Cutler while having an eye on being ready to play if called upon.

    McCown mastered those responsibilities in 2013. Now, the search for a capable successor begins anew.

    dwiederer@tribune.com

    Twitter @danwiederer

    Currently on roster: 4

    Projected on final roster: 3

    Roster lock: Jay Cutler

    Good bet: David Fales

    On the bubble: Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen
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  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    It's a well researched and well written piece but I'm not sure I agree with his assessment that we can't have both Palmer and Clausen on the 53 man roster. Cost is certainly not a factor. Neither one is even making close to a mil and Fales isn't much less costly than either of them.

    I don't find anything disingenuous about Emery comments about their trust in Palmer. He got injured for a bit during OTAs, we needed another arm, Clausen was available, and Trestman has some history with the guy. Having two albeit inexperienced vets competing with one another for the backup roll can't be seen as anything but good.

    Unless there's some over riding concern that they won't be able to get Fales through waivers and onto the PS it seems to me that keeping both Palmer and Clausen on the roster and putting Fales on the PS for a year would be the smart thing to do. Guess we'll have to watch some of the preseason games to get a better feel for it all.

    Cutler should now be on the forefront of becoming the guy we traded for. Wiederer is right. Everything he's ever wished for has been put in place and then some. We may lack a little top flight depth in a few spots but the front line talent is as good or better than he's ever had to work with and the coaching is responsive to his strengths as a player. Not much more you can do but all of this.

    I would be absolutely dumbfounded if this offense isn't very bit as good or better than it was last year. Cutler made a huge leap forward last year and all I can see is the potential for another one this year. He's ready to take over and it's his team now.
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  3. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    This seems like the best option to me too.
    I'm curious, does a practice squad QB get much work? I seem to remember reading something a long time ago that they did have a role as the QB of the scout team each week where they simulate the next opponent for our starting defense to practice against. Anyone know if this is the case with the Bears? If it is, then Fales would gain some good experience this year going against an NFL defense (ours). If Trestman does believe he has potential for development into a long-term backup to Jay, then this would be invaluable experience this year.

    And I see no downside to keeping the two veterans as backups to Jay this season if they can keep Fales on the PS.
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  4. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    If there is a 3rd string QB on the roster he usually runs the scout team but if Fales is on the PS you have to think he'd get some work in their too. But as Palmer was quick to point out in his own defense getting mental reps and doing film study can be just as important as the physical reps.

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