Chicago Bears to bench Jay Cutler, amidst disappointing season

The Chicago Bears plan to start Jimmy Clausen instead of Jay Cutler at quarterback this week, according to an ESPN report. The Bears had high hopes for this year after narrowly missing the post season in 2013.  However, Cutler has led the Bears to a 5-9 record this season and has struggled. Clausen will start against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Monday, the Bears were down 24-0 early against the New Orleans Saints and wound up losing the game 31-15. Cutler had three interceptions which brought his NFL-leading turnover total to 24. He threw two touchdowns, but his passer rating was 55.8, a season low. His QBR total was 6.8–his second-worst performance of this season in that category–and he was sacked by the Saints seven times. Sports Illustrated claimed Cutler looked “completely lost.”

Cutler’s performance this year has come under fire from the Chicago media particularly due to the new deal he signed before the season. The seven-year $126.7 million deal–$54 million of which is guaranteed–made Cutler the highest-paid NFL offensive player this season.  Bears GM Phil Emery has been highly criticized in the wake of Cutler’s woeful year.  Ian Rapoport, NFL media insider, reported on NFL Gameday Morning that the Bears front office is having a “serious case of buyer’s remorse” in regard to the Cutler deal.

Sources told ESPN senior analyst Chris Mortensen that Coach Marc Trestman gave Cutler the news of his benching Wednesday morning. Before Cutler was given the news Wednesday, Trestman admitted that he has failed to use Cutler to his full potential. Trestman added that he couldn’t hide Cutler’s inconsistency. “We haven’t been able to do the things that we want to get done,” he said.

Trestman also addressed the offense as a whole when discussing the team’s issues. He said it is not “all about Jay” and that the offense needs to work together to “get it done.” The offense was coming off a 2013 season in which they it ranked second in points per game among all NFL teams.  This year the offense has fallen to 19th in the same statistical category.  This was the first time Trestman directly addressed offensive issues. For weeks, Trestman had defended Cutler’s starting quarterback status.

Clausen, 27, has played in three games this season. He was a second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2010 to the Carolina Panthers. He started 10 games with the Panthers, but was benched in favor of Cam Newton. Clausen beat Jordan Palmer in a preseason competition for his spot as Cutler’s backup due to his mental toughness, experience and mechanics. Trestman also mentioned his ability to demonstrate strong leadership through adversity made him a good choice. He said Clausen handled a “very, very difficult year” in Carolina.

Speculations on whether or not several Bears officials, including Emery and Trestman, will be returning next season have been made. No decisions have been officially announced or confirmed, though many believe both may be on their way out of Chicago.

After taking on the Lions this Sunday, the Cutler-less Bears will wrap up this season against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 28.

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