By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) I don’t want to feed that beast. Ideally, right now should be all about the huge potential the Chicago Bears have as a whole. What with the well-gelled fireworks offense and a seemingly much-improved defense that was the main reason there was no postseason last season and all. But as painful as this conversation always turns, it would be ignorant to not question it.
The backup quarterback situation frightens me, OK? I’m in the minority of people who have full faith in Jay Cutler and believes he’s capable of winning a Super Bowl (or at least isn’t an obstacle to one). This isn’t an invitation to the crazies to indict No. 6. Take elsewhere your love of piling on a guy in some irrational attempt to unseat the franchise’s greatest quarterback ever. Ever.
And while I lean toward Cutler being a victim of a lot of bad luck more so than deserving of the injury-prone label, he’s always one defensive lineman rolling into his knee or one helmet being too close to his hand on a follow-through from missing time. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are, too. The Bears offensive line was improbably lucky to stay whole last season. Odds are that doesn’t repeat, which increases the odds of blindside hits and awkward landings and twisty missteps.
We’ve been there before. Caleb Hanie, Todd Collins, St. Joshua of McGowan. I sincerely hope we don’t go there again. Still…
Nothing about Jordan Palmer gives me any sense of calm in that regard. Even before his icky showing on Friday against the Philadelphia Eagles with a bad Monday practice for an encore, it tasted metallic to say, “Cutler’s backup is Jordan Palmer? The guy the Bears released in August of 2013, then brought back, then re-signed?”
In the battle for vice-quarterback, Jimmy Clausen was the better backup in the first preseason game and is expected to appear against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday ahead of Palmer.
“I thought he moved the team well,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He was poised for a guy who’s been here so little time. I think we saw something there as well.”
That’s a hell of a lot more positive coded coachspeak than has been said about Palmer this summer.
Yet,he’s still Jimmy freakin’ Clausen, as unfair as it is to just assume the guy will revert to the Carolina bust even this Notre Dame fan expected him to be. He also faced lesser competition than Palmer on Friday.
Last year, Trestman made chicken salad out of chicken Josh McCown — who also just so happened to look really bad in his debut for his new team because he isn’t a very good quarterback — and there isn’t anything glaring about Clausen that says he can’t luck his way into the perfect offense, too. Maybe Trestman’s playbook is so good that it allows for journeymen and has-beens and almost-but-nevers to slide in and not bury the team.
Forgive me, though, if the small sample size doesn’t ease my dyspepsia. And he’s still Jimmy freakin’ Clausen, you guys.
(Before you ask: No, I will not mention a certain Northern Illinois product.)
Is a veteran free agent a more comfortable security blanket? Brady Quinn and Rex Grossman just got jobs, if you can believe it. I looked at a free agent list and… oh, the horror. Kevin Kolb insists that the massive concussion he received last season is not career-ending, and he stands firmly behind Senator McCain to defeat Senator Obama in the upcoming election. Josh Freeman forgot how to be good at football. John Skelton is … a person.
And then in a ludicrous plot twist, one only the deftest of daytime soap writers could pen, we find ourselves facing the possibility of the return of our ex-husband, Kyle Orton. Even stranger — I’m not against it.
“Great leadership skills, guys really like playing for him, big arm,” general manager Phil Emery said of Orton recently. “So the skill set is there. But as far as where he’s going in his career … that we don’t know.”
Of all the names mentioned so far in this column, save Cutler, it’s Kyle Orton, with that arm and résumé of winning actual games (35 of them) with some losses as well (35 of them) who would be least likely to make me tweet out an emojicon of a character flipping over a table should Cutler get injured. And even kind of wanting Orton on this team feels very unsettling.
Conversations about backup Bears quarterbacks always deviate into madness because Cutler is the Antichrist, and there’s some Midwest directional school guy who the Bears should totally give a shot. But I’d rather feed that beast now than stumble upon a famine some weeks later.
You can follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe.