Jay Cutler to remain starter For Chicago Bears?



While Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will remain on the roster in 2015, the possibility is very much real that he may not be the lead under center. Newly hired offensive coordinator Adam Gase emphasized his comfort with backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his intriguing style of play in their minicamp this past week. Clausen, who started in the Bears’ week 16 loss against the Detroit Lions, replaced the long time starting Cutler, who was benched, following a four game losing streak last season.

“I feel like what we saw on tape last year- and I know it was limited- but he’s really grown as a player,” Gase said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “And what we’re trying to put together right now, he was a great fit for that room. He and Jay have a great relationship. I felt like he’d be perfect for what we were trying to do offensively”.

Despite losing in his only start last season, Clausen threw for 181 yards, two touchdowns, and only one interception against the Lions’ second ranked defense, which inclined Chicago to resign him this past off season.

As for Cutler, who’s onto his seventh year under center for the Bears, has had his fair share of ups and downs in his tumultuous career. Accumulating a 42-30 record from 2010 to 2012, including an NFC Championship appearance, Cutler’s success has dwindled to winning only 10 of his last 26 games. Last year took a turn for the worst, when Chicago managed to only notch five wins, their worst mark in ten years, in part because of Cutler’s struggles.

Out of the NFL quarterbacks who have started for at least the past three seasons, Cutler ranks the highest in interception percentage, with 3.4%. More recently, despite throwing for a career high of 28 touchdowns, Cutler led the league in turnovers with 24, surpassing not just every other player, but 18 other teams as well.

Jay Cutler watches Patrick Devlin (4) throw at minicamp on June 17. Photo taken by Jose M. Osorio of Chicago Tribune

Jay Cutler watches Patrick Devlin (4) throw at minicamp on June 17.
Photo taken by Jose M. Osorio of Chicago Tribune

Gase marks as Cutler’s seventh offensive coordinator in his 10 year career, and his fifth in Chicago since his first year as a Bear in 2009. With Mike Martz, Mike Tice and Aaron Kromer each having issues of communication with Cutler during their brief tenures, Cutler’s relationship with Gase will be closely monitored.

With Gase’s exploration of Clausen as an option, including new acquisitions like Shane Carden and Pat Devlin, It’s apparent he wants to put an end to the Bears’ five year streak of playoff absence. It’s also apparent that head coach John Fox will not be committing the same mistakes previous Bears head coaches have made.

Back in March, Fox elucidated that Cutler needs to prove he is worthy of starting by competing with Jimmy Clausen for the spot. “It’s all an open competition,” Fox said via CSNChicago.com. “Obviously you’ve got to start somewhere and my experience in football, really in anything, it’s not where you start a competition; it’s where you finish it.”

Even if Cutler gets the nod from Gase and Fox to start, even with the receiving help of Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Kevin White and Matt Forte, he may still lack the trust from his superiors.

Bears’ head coach John Fox, who Clausen played under in 2010 for the Carolina Panthers, was adamant about his game plan from the start. “Running the ball and stopping the run – that’s the essence of football to me,” Fox said in his introductory press conference.

Cutler, in the mean-time, has expressed his comfort with the new offense going forward. “I feel great about the offense we’re in right now,” Cutler said. “I know the guys like it. I know the receivers like it. Marty (Bennett) is going to love it when he gets involved in it. We just have to keep heading in the direction we are going and keep studying. We are not where we want to be yet.”

Cutler will be entering the third year of his seven-year, $126 million contract this upcoming season, the highest total value of any contract in the NFL right now.