The Chicago Bears allowed media reports to announce that they had benched starting quarterback Jay Cutler in favor of Jimmy Clausen for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, and on Thursday afternoon the team faced the music as they spoke to the media for the first time.
Even though he put on a brave face and answered questions forthrightly throughout his availability, Cutler admitted that he wasn’t happy with the way things had turned out.
“When the decision was made, I didn’t stick around and ask a lot of questions,” Cutler said. “I didn’t take it well at the time. I’ll try to help Jimmy and make sure that he’s ready on a short week.”
That preparation time for Clausen is limited because of the Bears’ game on Monday against the New Orleans Saints, and is made even shorter by Marc Trestman’s decision not to have the team practice until Thursday for the first time.
Despite the limitations of only having two practice sessions to prepare as the starter against one of the best defenses in the NFL, Clausen isn’t making any excuses.
“It really doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not,” he said. “We’re just trying to get ready each and every day.”
Fortunately for Clausen, he has made it a point to prepare thoroughly for every game this season, and so getting thrust into the starter’s role hasn’t really changed his approach.
“I’m taking the same approach that I have the entire year: just to be myself and go to work,” he said. “That’s the only thing you can do right now. I’ve been in way worse situations than this, and the only thing we can do is go out each and every day and work. All the guys on the team are doing that.”
The Bears’ other offensive players are not only having to deal with a new quarterback under center, but they’re also having to deal with a teammate who’s been relieved of his duties as the starter in the same locker room. Despite any potential awkwardness, Cutler insists that his teammates have been supportive.
“They were good. Everyone’s been supportive,” he said. “We have a lot of good guys in the locker room. Now they have to support Jimmy 100% just like I have to.”
Helping Clausen prepare for his start is something that Cutler got used to last season. With Josh McCown as the back-up, Cutler watched him start a number of games while dealing with injury, and he says that experience is going to help him this week.
“Last year helping Josh when I was hurt helped me now,” he said. “Just trying to help relax him and help him through the reads. We’ve played them once before, so I have some insight from that. He’s played a lot of high level football games from high school to college to starting in Carolina. I expect him to play well.”
Even though he has a game to prepare for, Clausen is still sympathetic to the struggles that Cutler is going through as he adjusts to being the number two player on the depth chart.
“It’s tough on him being the starting quarterback and the coach going a different way,” he said. “He’s been great with me yesterday and today. That’s the way Jay’s been with me since day one. Nothing has changed from his perspective and my perspective.”