No matter how many times members of the media have tried to get Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman to tip his hand on who is leading the race to be the team’s back-up quarterback, he still won’t divulge any hints as to the status of the competition.
On Friday night though, it seemed as though there was a guy who definitely edged out in front, and that is quarterback Jimmy Clausen. The University of Notre Dame product completed 7-of-13 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the game, and after some initial struggles he showed the kind of arm strength and pocket presence that the Bears are looking for out of their back-up quarterback.
His precision throw down the sideline to Chris Williams in the third quarter was one such throw. After Williams blew past the man coverage, Clausen found him in stride with a perfect pass, and the Eagles had no chance to stop him as he motored to the end zone. Clausen’s throw to Micheal Spurlock was equally impressive, as he took advantage of good protection from the offensive line to calmly go through all of his reads before finding the receiver in space for the score.
Palmer had decent numbers in the game, going 8-for-11 for 104 yards and a touchdown, but he looked decidedly less sure of himself in the pocket and threw an interception that was entirely avoidable. He also held onto the ball for a touch too long on several throws, and even his touchdown pass wasn’t a thing of beauty, as he threw to the wrong shoulder of Miller, forcing the tight end to make an adjustment to make the catch.
Granted, it’s just one preseason game, but even in practice Clausen has looked more comfortable in drills and in 11-on-11 situations than Palmer has. Both players still have a good shot at getting the back-up job, but if we’re judging on pedigree, performance in camp, and the way they handled themselves on the field Friday night, Clausen has taken the lead in the competition and should get more reps with the second team over the final three practices of training camp.