Earlier in the offseason the job of backup to Jay Cutler had all of the appearances of Jordan Palmer’s to lose. It still is. Mostly.
“Right now, Jordan Palmer has the first shot at being No. 2,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We’re going to give Jordan the first shot; he’s been here the longest.”
Hardly a decisive vote of confidence for Palmer, but then, Trestman is not given to hyperbole, good or bad.
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Among the principal elements in Palmer’s favor from his nine games with the Bears last season were familiarity with the Trestman offense, a comfort level with Cutler and the motivation of a last chance at a career reboot.
The problem facing Palmer, which is decidedly not a “problem” for the Bears, is Jimmy Clausen.
Clausen was a late-offseason pickup, and multiple indicators suggest that he has made major strides, unusual in any offseason, particularly given the amount of time Clausen has been a Bear. In short, he has developed in some of the same key areas that Palmer has progressed.
It is far from a conclusive indicator, but Clausen was the object of unusually lavish superlatives at this point of an offseason and training camp.
The system familiarity and Cutler relationship were jump-started at the same time.
“He came in here and got Jay on the phone right away and Jay reached him and they reached out to each other when [Clausen] heard he was going to sign and they spent the whole weekend together learning the playbook so that he had the best opportunity to stick with the team post the vet minicamp,” said general manager Phil Emery.
“That determination, the literal picture is he squared his jaw and got to work, and that is what I like about him. He’s got a certain mental toughness and intelligence and he showed his accuracy and he showed his release quickness.”
And there is the matter of attitude. A little desperation makes us run faster and work harder, and Clausen is staring right at some career terror.
“Competition brings out the best in people,” Clausen said. “I’m looking forward to competing. Only way I can compete is if I learned the offense. So I’ve just got to keep speeding that up and each day come in and work hard and get the offense down.”
Clausen’s projected cockiness, off-putting to many while he was at Notre Dame and into his rookie year as Carolina’s second-round pick, now has a different feel.
“I really like how he came in here,” Emery said. “He’s got a little chip on his shoulder right now. He wants to re-prove himself or prove himself and he’s very focused.”