Jimmy Clausen Not Jordan Palmer Should Be Cutler's Backup and Here's Why

Jimmy Clausen Not Jordan Palmer Should Be Cutler's Backup and Here's Why
Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh with backups Jimmy Clausen (8), David Fales (12) and Jordan Palmer (2) during the Chicago Bears first training camp practice Friday, July 25, 2014 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

The Bears don’t have Josh McCown anymore as a security blanket and they don’t have things figured out regarding the No. 2 quarterback spot just yet.

However, there is one big difference between Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer, potential.

Yes, Clausen struggled in his one season as an NFL starter, but the former second-round pick from Notre Dame spent four seasons in Carolina learning and taking in the game of football.

At 26, Clausen is the healthiest he’s been in over a year and a half now that he’s fully recovered from a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Clausen has 10 starts to his name, while Palmer has just 15 pass attempts in four games played in. The once promising star, Clausen, didn’t do himself any good by winning only one of his starts with the Panthers in 2010 as a rookie.

That forced the team to draft Cam Newton with the first pick and Clausen never sniffed the field again. He spent the rest of his time in Carolina behind Newton and veteran Derek Anderson.

Clausen vs. Palmer so far this preseason

Clausen: 18 of 28, 244 yards, 2 TD’s, INT, 98.1 QB Rating, 63.5 completion percentage

Palmer: 14 of 20, 177 yards, TD, INT, 69.1 QB Rating, 69.1 completion percentage

The 30-year-old Palmer has been slightly more accurate this preseason, but he doesn’t take shots downfield very often. At one point in the preseason opener against the Eagles he looked flat out terrible, tossing an interception and nearly throwing another one backed up inside the Bears’ own 10-yard line.

Clausen looked very solid against the Eagles, but it came against even deeper backups than what Palmer faced. However, he showed something that proved to be important last season with Cutler out, an ability to scramble.

Clausen stepped up into the pocket and decided to take off for a 16-yard gain something we saw plenty from McCown a season ago. Against the Jaguars, Palmer didn’t completely overshadow Clausen’s play like many observers said, but he did play slightly better leading the team down the field for two late touchdown drives.

Clausen’s time as the No. 2 last week was plagued by three long penalties, sloppy running and mediocre play from his receivers. The interception Clausen threw was a pass that was forced into triple coverage something you can’t do in this league. His one bad mistake. Palmer benefited from a disappointing performance by Clausen simple and plain.

Friday’s game in Seattle will be a huge barometer of who will take the job in this competition. In a loud environment there it should be a good test.

One thing is for though, you can never have too many solid quarterbacks on your team and the Bears have certainly taken note of that the last couple of seasons.

Final Thoughts

The Bears could possibly consider keeping both Clausen and Palmer, but with sixth-round pick David Fales in the mix for the third spot it could seem tricky to work that in.

Either way Clausen brings you an ability that Palmer simply doesn’t. I see promise when Clausen is out there, while Palmer just doesn’t really impress me much.

Palmer was cut by the Redskins, Bengals and Jaguars previously, while playing in the AFL and the now defunct UFL as well. Clausen has spent all of his time in the NFL, not much as a starter, but he has the ability to thrive now being fully healthy.

Palmer will likely come in for Cutler in the third quarter and Clausen should play most of the fourth quarter if not all of it.

Marc Trestman’s system is set up perfectly for an athletic and gifted quarterback with a strong front five, big and tall receivers and a versatile running back. McCown complemented Cutler so well because he played very similarly and had plenty of time to think in the offense.

Clausen’s game compares way more to McCown, who also had starting experience previously unlike Palmer.

Palmer admitted on Thursday that he’s at a “point in his career where it could have been over a couple of different times.”

Clausen on the other hand said this:

“I feel like I’ve come a long way being here for a few weeks during OTAs and then training camp,” he said via Chicagobears.com. “I feel real comfortable in the offense. I’m just trying to go out each and every day, keep working and keep competing.”

If Cutler were to miss any game action in 2014, Clausen would provide a much better option at keeping the season alive. We certainly don’t want another Caleb Hanie situation on our hands with an unproven player.

Potential, athleticism and overall talent is what gives Clausen the upper hand over Palmer in my opinion. Palmer seems to be more of a coach type than a No. 2 quarterback.

For what it’s worth, Palmer is set to make $730,000, while Clausen will make $645,000 in 2014.

Thoughts on the heated quarterback competition?

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