The Bears first preseason game is in the books after a sloppy but entertaining 34-28 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Some people don’t get too excited about preseason games, but personally I am so happy football is back I could have watched another 3 hours of the Bears 4th string.
I have been covering the Bears position battles all preseason and I will be updating who helped and who hurt their chances in Friday night’s game. Performing in practice is one thing, but the winners will be decided by who performs on the field during preseason games.
Position: #2 QB
The backup QB job is up for grabs. Palmer appeared to have the job locked up before camp, but the Bears brought Jimmy Clausen on board in June and it’s been a close battle ever since. Neither guy is proven, but at least they both looked much better than Lions backup Dan Orlovsky looked this weekend!
Up: Jimmy Clausen – It took Clausen a drive to get loose, but once he did he showed flashes of the talent that made him a 2nd round pick back in 2010. Clausen showed a quick release, good short-to-mid range accuracy, and a pretty deep ball. Most impressive in my opinion was Clausen’s ability to recognize defensive schemes; On his 73-yard TD to Chris Williams, Clausen recognized a blitz was coming and that he had 1-1 coverage on the outside, audibled out of the run play, then hit Williams in stride with a perfect deep ball. He also had an impressive 16-yd scramble on 3rd & 12 and did a great job progressing through his reads on a 22-yard TD to Michael Spurlock. It’s only one game, but I feel much better about Clausen as the Cutler’s backup than I did before the game.
Down: Jordan Palmer - Down might be a little harsh, since Palmer played better as he got more reps in the 1st half. My issue with Palmer is that he just looked slower than Clausen in his reads, his decisions, his footwork, and his release. There was a play late in the 1st half, when the Bears had the ball deep in their own territory and C Taylor Boggs got beat inside. Instead of getting rid of the ball quickly, Palmer hesitated, his feet got tangled up and he half-assed a pass attempt as he got hit. It was called an incomplete pass but it was close enough to a fumble that it was reviewed and it showed a lack of poise from Palmer that is troubling. On the day Palmer finished 8-11 for 104 yards with a TD & an INT. Those are decent numbers and he threw some nice balls, but his bad plays were much worse than Clausen’s and the Bears need a backup who will minimize mistakes if forced to play.
No Change: David Fales - Threw a couple nice passes including a 41-yarder to Josh Bellamy and a bullet on 6-yard slant to Spurlock, but also threw an INT a couple plays later. By Fales next drive the Bears were in time killing mode and he only threw a few short passes in between handoffs. Fales showed a better arm than I expected and the INT was a nice play by the rookie CB Jaylen Watkins.