Bears Grades: Clausen did 'best he could' to replace Jay Cutler


Bears Grades: Clausen did 'best he could' to replace Jay Cutler

The second-quarter interception of a pass toward Martellus Bennett will be the defining play of the Arizona game for Jay Cutler, who injured himself trying to make a tackle of safety Tony Jefferson. It shouldn’t be, with Bennett and Cutler appearing to have a communication problem that resulting in Cutler throwing to where Bennett was rather than where the tight end was going.

Cutler’s attempt to tackle Jefferson resulted in what the team reported to be a hamstring injury that took him out of the game. Initially Cutler appeared to land hardest on his throwing (right) shoulder but the team announced it as the hamstring.

The injury brought Jimmy Clausen on in relief, a tough act to follow with Cutler having completed all of his first eight passes, including one for a 48-yard touchdown to Josh Bellamy, a play worked out all week by Cutler.

[MORE GRADES: Offensive line ¦ Coaching]

But a never-before-seen Cutler appeared in the Bears’ offense Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. In an offense missing its current No. 1 receiver (Alshon Jeffery), Cutler showed the diversity that his athleticism allows his coaches, taking off on three designed runs in the second quarter, all for positive yards, then using the threat of a fourth run to force the Arizona secondary into a completion to Eddie Royal.

Cutler’s composure under extreme pressure on a first-quarter third down led to a 27-yard last second dump off to Matt Forte. That was followed a couple snaps later by Cutler instantly recognizing that two Arizona defensive backs jumped to cover the same receiver, leaving Bellamy alone down the left sideline for a 48-yard touchdown.

The difficulty with analyzing Clausen’s performance is whether to grade on a curve – his only live snaps in the last four years came in Week 15 last season against the Detroit Lions – or in absolute terms.

“Anytime you put a quarterback in the game who has had backup reps during the week, I think it’s tough for any position but particularly for a quarterback,” said coach John Fox. “But I think all in all, he did the best he could, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

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Clausen completed 14 of 23 passes for 121 yards, with one interception and taking two sacks in a situation with the game slipping away from the Bears in the second half.

Coming in cold “is pretty tough, but that’s my job,” said Clausen, who was an offseason priority re-sign for the Bears. “As a backup quarterback you’ve got to be ready when your name is called when the starter goes down.”

Meaning: As a starting quarterback, Clausen was just less than adequate. As a backup coming in cold, better than most.

“Jimmy did a great job of coming in and picking up the pace as he got more into the game,” said tight end Bennett.

Moon's Grade: C-

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20. 

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start from new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."