The Chicago Bears report to training camp next week in Bourbonnais, and as we prepare for the team to arrive at Olivet Nazarene University, Grizzly Detail is here to bring you a breakdown of the various position battles that will be taking place when the teams hit the practice fields.
Today we will be focusing on the quarterback position.
The incumbent starter at the position is Jay Cutler, who signed a seven-year contract with the team in January. During his five seasons with the Bears, Cutler has a 39-28 record, completing 60.2% of his passes for 14,913 yards and 101 touchdowns. He does turn the ball over quite a bit, with 75 interceptions over those seasons. He has led the Bears to the playoffs in 2011 before losing in the NFC Championship game to the Green Bay Packers.
Last season, Cutler was derailed by several injuries, with his groin and shoulder forcing him to miss five games. Despite that, he did throw for 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in Marc Trestman’s offense, completing 63.1 percent of his passes (his best such mark with the Bears), and he seemed to relish the opportunity to use new weapons in Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery.
Cutler was backed up by Josh McCown last season, but with the veteran quarterback heading to greener pastures in Tampa Bay (greener because they’re lined with more money), the position battle for the back-up job is wide open.
The slight favorite as training camp gets underway is Jordan Palmer, who served as the Bears’ third string quarterback last season. He had a good preseason with the team, but with only four career games played and 59 total passing yards in those contests (he’s 10-for-15 with no touchdowns and two interceptions) under his belt, he isn’t exactly the runaway winner for the position.
That’s why the team brought in two other quarterbacks to compete with Palmer for the gig. Former Carolina Panthers quarterback (and Notre Dame star) Jimmy Clausen is one, signing a one-year deal with the team as a free agent. The team also drafted David Fales out of San Jose State in the NFL Draft in May, and he could very well be the team’s back-up of the future. In his two-year career at the school, Fales completed 68.1% of his passes, throwing for 66 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He is a similar quarterback to McCown in both style and efficiency, and he provides a great contrasting style to that of Cutler.
What to Watch For:
With Cutler’s health an ongoing question mark, the battle for the back-up quarterback job is an important one for the Bears. McCown thrived under Trestman’s tutelage and was a great calming influence on Cutler, but can Fales, Clausen, or Palmer step into that job? It’s tough to handicap this one since Fales has yet to throw with the Bears’ bumper crop of receivers, but if one had to guess, it is likely Palmer’s job to lose, with Fales as the likely second option. Clausen is a bit of a dark horse, but could win the job with a great camp.