Looks like Clausen already has taken Palmer's job

Jimmy Clausen

Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen runs for a first down in the third quarter. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune / August 8, 2014)

I don’t know every criteria by which Marc Trestman is judging his backup quarterbacks, but Jimmy Clausen won.

I think it’s over and Clausen has won the spot behind Jay Cutler. Premature? Maybe. But ultimately true. You watch. Clip & save.

If nothing else, Clausen at least won Friday night against Jordan Palmer.

Each passer threw a touchdown, and Palmer had a better completion percentage -- 8 of 11 compared to Clausen’s 7 of 13. But Palmer threw an interception that seemed to be as much bad decision-making as bad protection.

But perhaps the most important and obvious part of the competition is that Clausen has the stronger arm all over the field.

Out routes, screen passes, whatever, Clausen showed as much of the route tree as he could. He also showed touch and accuracy, from a nice screen pass on third-and-10 to that pretty sideline rainbow that became a 73-yard TD hookup with Chris Williams to a completion to Dante Rosario on a flat route for a two-point conversion. No sign of residual problems from last season’s shoulder injury.

Perhaps just as important and obvious, Clausen looked and acted the part of a quarterback in control of an NFL offense.

Clausen’s’ experience and poise showed on his audible that became the TD pass to Williams and his finding Michael Spurlock for a touchdown backside even though Spurlock seemed to be his fifth option.

Maybe it’s me, but I never felt that way as Palmer was stumbling his way through his reps.

Palmer was bad early. He was inconsistent overall. He made a big play on a nice drive, but he also gave the ball away on another drive, and that's the worst thing he could do.

Theoretically, Clausen did much of his damage against lesser players because Clausen played later in the game. Just as theoretically, Palmer had better players in front of him, even if the  Bears’ second string didn’t look like it could’ve beaten Illinois.

Fairness should call for Clausen to be listed as the No. 2 quarterback and play against the Jaguars’ second-string, no matter how redundant that sounds. That kind of switch might give Palmer a better chance to look smoother and might test Clausen a little more.

But it won’t make Palmer’s arm stronger than Clausen’s.

I hate saying nice things about Notre Damers because they’re a bunch of sanctimonious frauds down there in the banana republic of South Bend, but Clausen is the best option behind Cutler.

The right side of the Bears starting offensive line didn’t play. That would’ve been enough for me not to play Cutler.

Let Cutler take more reps with the backup line in practice. Let the backup quarterbacks take the risks against angry opponents in games.

After that first drive, when the Bears looked as bad as Fox’s public access broadcast, I certainly would’ve told Cutler to grab a ball cap.

But then on third-and-7, Cutler fires back shoulder to a guy you’ve never heard of for a touchdown to complete a 13-play drive. So, yeah, never mind.

Not to be Chicken Little, but the knee injury to backup offensive lineman Brian de la Puente after injuries kept out starting right guard Kyle Long and starting right tackle Jordan Mills might be the most important development in the first exhibition game. We knew the Bears' offensive line amazingly started the same five players all 16 games last season and we knew that would be tough to match, but get together at least once before Labor Day, OK, guys?

Even without star pass rusher Jared Allen, the Bears' starting defensive line was so good that it made the Eagles’ offensive line look like a J’Marcus Webb family reunion.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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