New QB, Same Result For Bears
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 22, 2014 5:00PM
Photo credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Bears head coach Marc Trestman stunned the city on Wednesday, when word broke that he was benching Jay Cutler and starting Jimmy Clausen at QB for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. While the Bears looked better than in recent weeks, the result was the same. The Bears lost to the Lions 20-14 Sunday afternoon, falling to 5-10 on the season.
Jimmy Clausen: Good is relative at this point in the season for the Bears. But for a quarterback who hadn't started a game in the NFL since 2010, Clausen didn't look too rusty. He completed 23 of 39 passes for 181 yards and two TDs. His only turnover came on fourth down in the game's final minute. His numbers were hurt by a rash of dropped balls that should have been caught. While Clausen's afternoon by no means proved that anybody but Jay Cutler can look like a Pro Bowler in Trestman's system, he also didn't make Trestman's decision to switch QBs look insane either.
The Defense: The Bears' defense played better on Sunday than they had in quite some time. Two interceptions of Matt Stafford passes in the "red zone"—one each by Ryan Mundy and Brock Vereen—helped keep the game close in the early going, while Clausen and the offense were still trying to get acclimated. Stafford was sacked four times, by rookie linebacker Christian Jones, and linemen David Bass, Jared Allen and Jeremiah Ratliff. The Bears actually held a lead into the fourth quarter this game, and even if they couldn't help the Bears to victory at least the team wasn't embarrassed yet again.
Photo credit: David Banks/Getty Images
Alshon Jeffery: Now the Bears' number one receiver with Brandon Marshall on IR, Jeffrey had a pretty bad day despite his numbers. While he caught six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown, Jeffery was targeted 15 times. And many of those targets not resulting in catches were flat out drops. Jeffery and the other Bears receivers did Clausen no favors with their inability to snag eminently catchable balls all day long.
Tim Jennings: Another key veteran who had a bad afternoon was All-Pro cornerback Jennings. His poor coverage and lack of turning toward a thrown ball resulted in a 46-yard pass interference call that set up the Lions' go-ahead touchdown. An incompletion would have likely forced a Detroit punt and given the Bears the ball while holding on to a lead. Instead, the Lions' Joique Bell ran the ball in from 17 yards out on the next play, and gave the Lions the lead for good.
Dom Raiola incident: Was Dom Raiola's stomp of Ego Ferguson's ankle intentional, or an accident? The Lions' center claims it was accidental, and that he apologized. “I did not try to stomp on his ankle,” Raiola said. “I am not going to try to take somebody out of the game. I apologized at the end of the game and he accepted my apology. That’s it.” Ferguson's take was a little different, “I haven’t seen the replay but I am pretty sure I know what happened... at the end of the day, it’s on the film. The film don’t lie.” The league office is sure to be taking a look at the incident and could fine or even suspend Raiola over it.
Willie Young's Injury: Willie Young's season ended a week early with an apparent Achilles injury. Young, who led the team with 10 sacks, was one of the few bright spots on the defensive line. For much of the season, he outplayed higher profile free agent signings Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston. With the injury, he's certainly out against Minnesota in the finale, and recovery could impact his entire off-season.
Just one more game to endure before this lost season is over. The 5-10 Bears take on the 6-9 Minnesota Vikings to see who can avoid the NFC North's basement. No word yet from Trestman whether Cutler or Clausen will be under center, but our money's on Clausen. The backup's play didn't do anything to justify relegating him to the bench, and if the Bears have any hopes of trading Jay Cutler in the off-season, they need to keep him healthy. And the day after the finale should be interesting, to just how widespread the expected house cleaning really is.