What do Bears have in Cutler replacement Jimmy Clausen?


What do Bears have in Cutler replacement Jimmy Clausen?

With the hamstring injury to quarterback Jay Cutler late in the first half of Sunday’s 48-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Jimmy Clausen is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears for the second time in the span of five games.

In the last two games Clausen has played, he left the field a loser both times and was a woeful 1-9 as a rookie starter with the Carolina Panthers under then-coach John Fox.

[RELATED - Bears: Jay Cutler's 'competitiveness' leads to hamstring injury]

But accurately discerning what the Bears will have under center in Seattle against the Seahawks is virtually impossible. Not the Bears’ overall situation going into one of the NFL’s most difficult road venues to play the defending NFC champions; that’s not a difficult prediction.

Clausen is the unknown.

Clausen’s history offers few clues - few clear positive ones, in any case. His recent history unfortunately includes concussions, first in the 2014 Game 15 loss to the Detroit Lions when Cutler was benched in favor of Clausen, then this preseason when he suffered a second on a hit by a Cincinnati Bengals linebacker while going into a play-ending slide.

Regardless of whether they were looking just at old tape of Clausen, from 2010 when he was a second-round draft choice coming out of Notre Dame, or some combination of pro and college scouting reports, two different Bears general managers (Phil Emery, Ryan Pace) thought enough of him to sign him.

And two NFL teams were lurking with intent to sign Clausen last offseason when he chose to re-sign with the Bears, who thought enough of him to make a pre-emptive move in the days before free agency officially opened. That move came with Fox, the coach who had Clausen for that 1-9 rookie year in Carolina, already in place.

More to the on-field point, Clausen’s performances do not clarify much. Neither the Detroit game last season nor Sunday’s second half against Arizona make for easy assessment of Clausen.

Clausen’s installation as starter against the Lions was nothing less than a summary case study of the dysfunction within the Marc Trestman regime, which gave Clausen not only not the best chance for player success, but arguably set Clausen up in the worst possible circumstances and for failure.

[MORE - John Fox message after Bears’ loss: 'We’ll find guys who want to do it']

The Clausen-for-Cutler change was announced to the players on Tuesday morning after a Monday night disaster against the New Orleans Saints. So Clausen, who had not taken a regular-season snap in four years, was going to get his comeback snap coming off an already short week.

Trestman added to Clausen’s challenge by then giving the team Wednesday off, removing one of the two main practice days from Clausen’s already short week. Finally, just to make it really interesting: A shaky quarterback’s best friend is a successful supporting run game, Clausen’s return to the NFL came against the Detroit Lions, the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense. Sure enough, the Lions throttled Matt Forte, who finished with just 55 yards on 19 carries (2.9 ypc).

Clausen put up a line in the game that included 23-of-39 passing for 181 yards and a passer rating of 77.0. He was sacked twice and hit four times by Ndamukong Suh but threw for two touchdowns. He also threw one interception, on the final possession while driving toward a possible game-winning touchdown.

Critics dismissed Clausen as no better than Cutler had been. Considering the overall situation, having the Bears in position for a fourth-quarter win against a playoff team, the question should have been not how bad was Clausen, but rather how was he that effective and proficient under the circumstances?

Fast forward to Sunday, when Clausen entered again against the NFL’s Week 1 No. 1 run defense (Arizona), on an even shorter week than he had to prepare for Detroit last December (the backup QB gets little or no work during the week). Clausen’s line was a sub-standard 14-of-21 passing for 121 yards and a 56.6 rating also with an interception.

“The biggest thing is not getting [practice] reps with the 1’s [during the week] and a little different tone of voice being out there with those guys and changing up the snap count,” Clausen said as for the toughest part of the situation vs. Arizona. “There’s no excuse for it.”

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

The Chicago Bears will kick off the fourth season of "Meet the Rookies" on June 25, a series that profiles four of the team's 2018 draft picks for a behind-the-scenes look at their journey to the NFL.

The four-episode series will air on at 7:00 p.m from June 25 - 28 and will feature one rookie per night. 

Monday's episode will cover the Bears' first-round pick, Roquan Smith. Selected with the eighth-overall pick, Smith is expected to become an instant-impact player on defense. He's expected to make an impact off the field, too, as a high-character leader. Smith's linebacker-mate Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the focus of Tuesday's episode, with Anthony Miller (Wednesday) and James Daniels (Thursday) rounding out Season 4.

For a deeper dive into what's in store in "Meet the Rookies," check out this description.