By Brandon Reid
Senior Assistant Editor
Jay Cutler will be back under center for the Chicago Bears in the team’s season finale Sunday, Dec. 28, in Minnesota.
Cutler, who was benched last week, gets the start after his replacement, Jimmy Clausen, experienced delayed symptoms of a concussion following a 20-14 loss to division-leading Detroit in Chicago Sunday, Dec. 21.
“Jay gives us the best chance this week,” Bears Head Coach Marc Trestman said Monday, Dec. 22. “So that’s why he’ll be out there. Jay said, ‘I’ll be ready to go.’ He empathizes with what Jimmy had gone through last night. He’s ready to go. He’ll be in this afternoon to get started.”
Clausen was 23-for-39 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the loss to Detroit. It was Clausen’s first start since his rookie season in 2010, when he was with Carolina. He is now 1-10 in his career as a starter.
The Bears’ loss to the Lions was the team’s fourth straight. The team finished 2-6 at home in Soldier Field this season.
Clausen got the start against the Lions Sunday after Cutler was benched following the team’s 5-9 start. Cutler has thrown for 3,640 yards, 28 touchdowns and a league-leading 18 interceptions this season. He has a completion percentage of 66.1 and a quarterback rating of 89.5. His total Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) of 55.0 ranks him 20th among quarterbacks this season.
ESPN Stats & Information shows Cutler has averaged a turnover every 33.3 snaps this season, third-worst among all qualified players. His turnover rate is nearly twice as high as the average for a qualified NFL quarterback, which is 65.3 snaps.
Rookie David Fales will be the No. 2 quarterback Sunday in Minnesota. Kickoff is at noon. The Vikings are 6-9 on the season, while the Bears are 5-10.
Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game, many fans and media pundits are waiting for “Black Monday,” the day following the end of the regular season when many NFL head coaches are fired.
Trestman and his coaching staff have been under fire this season. The team has suffered a number of nationally televised embarrassments, including a 55-14 loss at Green Bay Sunday night, Nov. 9; a 34-17 loss at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27; a 41-28 loss at home against Dallas Thursday, Dec. 4; and a 31-15 loss at home to New Orleans Monday, Dec. 15.
The Bears’ defense has given up 429 points this season, worst in the NFL. The team is also fourth worst in the NFL with 29 turnovers.
Following the Dec. 21 loss to Detroit, Trestman is 13-18 in two seasons with the team.
Bears veteran kicker Robbie Gould, meantime, sounded off on Trestman’s benching of Cutler during an interview on The Speigel and Mannelly Show on WSCR-AM 670 Monday, Dec. 22.
“To be honest with you, I feel really bad for Jay,” Gould said on the radio program. “When you’re having a tough season like this, he’s not the guy to be the scapegoat or the guy to blame. There are a lot of guys you could put that blame on. You could bench the whole team. It’s not like anybody’s really played fantastic or great. We’re 5-10 now. So Jay is not the problem. Jay is not the issue. In my opinion, it’s tough to see because I think Jay’s a great quarterback. I hope he’s back next year for us. This is honestly … it’s not the Bear way. This whole season is not the Bear way; pointing fingers, things getting out of the locker room, that’s not the Chicago Bear way.”
Cutler, 31, signed a seven-year, $126 million extension with the Bears Jan. 2, 2014. That contract made him the highest-paid offensive player in the NFL this season.
During his interview on WSCR-AM 670, Gould also discussed the team’s transition from former Head Coach Lovie Smith to current head coach Trestman.
“Being around the organization for, now, 10 years, seeing guys like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, who most likely have walked through the tunnel for the last time, it’s tough, because we weren’t taught this way under Lovie [Smith],” Gould said. “We weren’t taught to do these sort of things, and we always stayed together as close as we possibly could. You don’t have to like everyone. You don’t need to like everyone, but you have to respect them and go to work every day for those people. So I think it’s very difficult because, honestly, this isn’t the Chicago Bear way.”
Posted Dec. 23, 2014