A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that there had been stories in Chicago that the Bears had contemplated benching Jay Cutler back in Week 12. I said then that the idea of turning the season over to Jimmy Clausen with 5 or 6 games still to play would not have been a positive step for the team. Well, the Bears are now out of the playoffs by a significant margin and there are only 2 games left on the schedule… Last night, Adam Schefter reported on ESPN that the Bears would indeed put Jay Cutler on the bench this weekend and start Jimmy Clausen against the Lions.
I am not going to try to pretend that I have any “sources close to the situation” who have spoken to me on background – because I do not. Nonetheless, it might be interesting to ponder what may have transpired earlier this week to bring about the change. My conjecture begins with the assumption that Jay Cutler did not go to anyone in the coaching ranks or the front office and asked out of this week’s game. Obviously, that is a possibility; I prefer not to have to deal with that.
Did Mark Trestman make this call? If so, I see the decision as a desperation measure on his part to extend his tenure in Chicago. If he is trying to make the case that he should be back at the helm of the Bears next year, he can positively spin just about anything Clausen does on Sunday.
If Clausen stinks in spades and throws 3 INTs while getting sacked 5 times, it might demonstrate to the front office and the owner’s suite that “quarterback” is not the team’s major problem. That is important for Trestman’s credentials because his label is “a quarterback whisperer”.
If Clausen beats the Lions by throwing 5 TD passes, it might demonstrate to the front office and the owners’ suite that, in fact, his system works and it would be a good idea to extend its run in Chicago.
That is the good news for Bears’ fans. Here’s why… If the GM or anyone in the owner’s suite made this call and “directed” this change in the starting line-up, the Bears as a team are on a dangerous path that could lead to Danny Boy Snyder levels of “executive meddling” with the football operation. The Bears’ owners are descended from George Halas, but football acumen is not genetically transferred; the Bears’ GM is the same guy who – in January 2014, only 11 months ago – signed the guy the Bears will put on the bench this Sunday to a long-term contract worth $126M with $54M of that total guaranteed. If that jamoke “ordered” the new starter this week, one might have to ask him what the Hell he was thinking back in January and what he did since them to make him any smarter about recognizing “QB Quality”.
I bear no animus whatsoever for Jimmy Clausen; I hope he plays well. I also hold out only a microscopic smidgen of hope that Clausen will ever be as good as an “average NFL QB”. The Bears are in a dark and foreboding place:
Their defensive backfield is sub-standard.
Their linebackers need to improve to be sub-standard.
Their offensive line is aging.
Their best running back is aging.
And now, they are separated from their franchise QB.
Moreover, the GM there seems not to make good decisions.
Look around at the bad teams in the NFL – not just the ones that are bad this year, I mean the ones that have been bad for a while. Compare their status with the assessment above and you will find that the Bears as a franchise are beginning to look like some of the bottom-feeders in the league.
I think there will be repercussions to this decision that will go well beyond the game this Sunday…
Back in August, Niners’ DE, Ray McDonald, was arrested for domestic violence. After an investigation, the authorities did not file charges; that situation is over and done with. Given that the “Ray Rice Affair” was in the news around that time, there was more than a little clamor for the Niners to suspend McDonald as the league had done with Rice. The team refused to do that and team president, Jed York, kept insisting that McDonald had to have due process before he was comfortable with taking action in the matter. You can debate the merits of that position all you want; it is his team and that is what he wanted to do.
Yesterday, the Niners released Ray McDonald. The San Jose police are in the process of investigating a sexual assault allegation; a woman has accused McDonald of sexually assaulting her and sought treatment at a hospital after the alleged assault. Just as it might be interesting to ask the Bears’ GM what may have changed to merit changing QBs in Chicago, it would be interesting to know why it was OK to keep McDonald on the field back in August while waiting for due process to happen but now it is also OK to cut him even without an arrest in this matter let alone any charges.
A cynic might say that the Niners saw themselves as a playoff team in August and already had one of their defensive stalwarts – Aldon Smith – on a league-imposed suspension and it was in the team’s self-interest to keep McDonald on the field. Those playoff aspirations do not obtain any more…
A more sensitive person might say that McDonald’s continued employment by the team came with a warning that he must not do anything that might put the team or the owner in a precarious PR position in the future. If that “warning” happened, then his release is a logical consequence of this allegation.
Not surprisingly at all, the NFL issued a statement regarding McDonald’s release saying that the league is “looking into the matter”. When I heard that, I had a flashback:
The NFL hired former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, to “look into” what happened to cause the league to bungle the “Ray Rice Affair”.
Given how long that has taken, I will expect to see Mueller’s report written in iambic pentameter when it hits the street. After all, they did not ask Mueller to solve the case of the Lindberg baby kidnapping or the disappearance of Judge Crater…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………