The selection of Jimmy Clausen over Jordan Palmer was expected, for all of the reasons coach Marc Trestman laid out and which were evident over the past month-plus — age, upside, mobility, experience, even leadership, where Clausen appeared more confident on the field both in practices and in games.
But for the Bears it may be a good news/bad news situation, with the good and bad being actually the same.
If Clausen, who is on a one-year Bears contract, is needed in the event of an injury to Jay Cutler, or even if he is not, this may well be his only season in Chicago. It’s happened before.
What Jason Campbell showed in the 2012 preseason effectively placed him back on NFL radars, even with a poor performance in his one game chance (San Francisco). After that season Campbell was off to Cleveland and a lucrative two-year contract.
Josh McCown was a late pickup in 2011 and sat behind Caleb Hanie through the problems of that lost season. The Bears brought him back in 2013, that season played out as it did for him, and he was off to Tampa Bay for a two-year contract.
Clausen, a former No. 2 draft pick, already has done what Campbell, a former No. 1 draft pick, did in 2012: re-establish himself in preseason, which Campbell told CSNChicago.com was his “real” season at the time. Campbell completed 64 percent of his preseason passes and finished with a 91.3 rating. Clausen through his three games so far (he may play in Cleveland but only if needed) has completed 64 percent of his passes and posted a passer rating of 94.4.
The not-for-long tag could be applied to any backup, but not really. A backup at most positions is not the same as a quarterback, which is at a premium. Clausen arguably already has stamped his ticket for next offseason.
It may be only preseason but for NFL personnel evaluators, it establishes that Clausen is healthy and capable of playing like a second-round draft choice. Clausen also established, if he needed to, and like Campbell and McCown did, that he can get along with an organization’s franchise quarterback in place. Not sure if Johnny Manziel would score the same on every team’s compatibility scale.
Ironically, Clausen had something of a brash-punk image with some. So did that quarterback he’s now supporting and the relationship, like Cutler-McCown, has started very well.
“[Cutler has] helped me tremendously,” Clausen said. “First day I got here, he was in here helping me. In the morning, came picked me up and we started getting to work. Just to see him doing that for a guy they just brought in is something special. I really appreciate it.”
From all indications, Cutler has grown and matured, maybe a function of just getting a little older. Same for Clausen.
“You know, it helped,” Clausen said. “One of the big things is sitting and looking back on the sidelines the past few years in Carolina just sitting and learning really did help. I didn’t have that in college. I didn’t have that in high school. Just to sit back and take a step back and look at everything help the game slow down a little bit for me and just learned how to play in the NFL, because it’s totally different from college.”