Sportress of Blogitude

John Fox lavishes praise on Jimmy Clausen, clearly still isn’t sold on Jay Cutler


A day after Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace publicly confirmed previous reports that Jay Cutler will be the team’s starting quarterback next season, John Fox chose not to discuss the team’s presumed starter and instead lavished praise upon his assumed backup.

The Bears head coach spoke at length about Jimmy Clausen. Prefacing his comments by saying that depth charts “exist for a reason,” Fox stated that he has seen “maturity and growth” from a quarterback he had when he served as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Even before Fox’s arrival, Clausen already had made Cutler uncomfortable with his role on the team. Former head coach Marc Trestman benched a struggling Cutler for the Dec. 21 game and inserted Clausen into the lineup. In that game, a 20-14 loss to the Detorit Lions, Clausen completed 23-of-39 attempts for 181 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Clausen suffered a concussion late in the game and Cutler re-assumed his starting job by default.

Speaking specifically about the game Clausen, Fox said he say good things in the quarterback’s performance, even hinting that Clausen may get a chance to change minds on the Bears coaching staff.

“I’ve seen a guy that’s matured,” Fox said, via ESPN. “I watched his one start, a lot of preseason snaps that he was involved in, and I’ve seen him grow as a quarterback. So he’ll get that opportunity. Obviously, he was a guy that we felt good enough about re-signing, and I’m excited to watch his growth moving forward.”

It’s certainly not an encouraging development that Fox has been reluctant publicly endorse Cutler as his starting quarterback, let alone give him some kind of vote of confidence, creating a situation where it will be difficult for the two to foster the kind of relationship necessary between head coach and quarterback. Things didn’t get off to an encouraging start from the get-go as Fox referred to Cutler as “Jake” during his introductory press conference.

Spending a lot of time praising Cutler’s presumed backup while saying little about him indicates things are continuing on that same troubling downward trajectory.