The Chicago Bears have decided to bench quarterback Jay Cutler in favor of backup Jimmy Clausen for the Week 16 matchup against the Detroit Lions on Dec. 21, per multiple reports.
The Chicago Bears are benching Jay Cutler in favor of Jimmy Clausen.
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Two team sources spoke with NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport on Dec. 17 to confirm the move, per NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal. Rapoport first hinted that Bears head coach Marc Trestman was thinking about benching Cutler during a Week 12 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
ESPN NFL Media Insider Adam Schefter (via ESPN Chicago) also confirms Cutler's benching, per a league source. Sources also told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that Trestman informed Cutler of the move to Clausen on Wednesday morning.
The Bears have reason to bench Cutler, who is the highest-paid offensive player in the league. He leads the NFL with 24 turnovers through Week 15. Rapoport says the team has "buyer's remorse" after giving Cutler a seven-year, $126 million contract in January. Rosenthal stresses the Chicago quarterback has struggled in the game management department and plays at the line of scrimmage.
Trestman spoke about Cutler's benching to ESPN Chicago on Dec. 17, emphasizing the entire offense, and not just Cutler, needs to be better moving forward:
"I think that's evident I haven't up to at this point. Am I working at it? Yes. We've seen moments, but we haven't done it on a consistent basis. I can't hide from that.
"We haven't been able to do the things that we want to get done. We're working towards that. But the answer to that is obvious. I'm trying to give you the most truthful answer, and that is, we've seen moments of it, but it's not where we need to go. It's not where we need to be. But it's not all about Jay. It's about our entire offense, working together to get it done."
With the Bears going to Clausen, Cutler's future as a starter is in serious jeopardy. Rapoport notes Chicago has already considered moving on from Cutler as the starter once the 2014 NFL season draws to a close. This move seems to be a manifestation.
The Bears still owe Cutler $15.5 million in 2015, per Rosenthal. That would make it challenging to trade him, although there could be some teams which could go out of their way to acquire a big-name quarterback.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cutler posted a 6.8 QBR after he threw for 194 yards and three interceptions during a 31-15 loss to the visiting New Orleans Saints on Monday. He was also sacked seven times. Cutler's Week 15 performance was the second-worst among starting quarterbacks, besting just Johnny Manziel, who threw for just 80 yards and two picks against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cutler post a QBR of less than 7.0 in the past six weeks. During that span, he posted three QBRs of lower than 25. What's more is he averages one turnover every 33.3 snaps. The average quarterback turns it over every 65.3 snaps, per ESPN.
As for Clausen, a second-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2010, he has appeared in three games for the Bears in 2014. Clausen got the nod over Jordan Palmer as Cutler's backup because of "his experience, upside, mechanics, football smarts and mental toughness," per the ESPN Chicago update.
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