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John Fox says Jay Cutler the starter but declares job an ‘an open competition’

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New Chicago Bears head coach John Fox arguably was talking out of both sides of his mouth when he said Jay Cutler is the team’s presumptive starting quarterback but then said the job will be decided by “an open competition.”

Fox made the comments regarding the Bears’ quarterback position on Wednesday while speaking with reporters at the NFL owners meetings after being asked if he can envision a scenario where Cutler would have to compete for the starting job.

“I would say logically if you are looking at the depth chart and you are asking me for it two weeks before we can really get anything going, I’d say he’d be first on the depth chart, yeah,” Fox said, via an NFL Nation report. “Obviously you’ve got to start somewhere and my experience in football and really anything is it’s not where you start the race, it’s where you finish it. We have to start the race with some kind of lineup, and we have not discussed that in depth. We have not presented it to our players in depth. I think it’s important for them to see it maybe more than you guys. I’ve had guys who were third on the depth chart that by the time we started the opener were first. I can’t tell you what’s happening. If I could I’d be at some racetrack somewhere.”

Fox on several occasions has had opportunities since taking the Bears’ head coaching job to give Cutler a public vote of confidence but has been stubbornly reluctant to do so — he also accidentally referred to the QB as “Jake” in his introductory presser — which makes his most recent comments hardly surprising.

Fox recently lavished praise Jimmy Clausen, the team’s presumed backup quarterback, arguably indicating he isn’t quite sold on Cutler just yet.

And yet, it can be surmised that the Bears are counting on Cutler to go out and seize the job.

Studying film from last season has led Fox to suspect Cutler lacked confidence. While it will take time to rebuild his lost confidence, Fox says, the coaching staff can help Cutler in that regard.

“Football-wise, there are things you can do in coaching; playing defense, playing complementary football is going to be something that helps,” he said.

“Our job is going to be building that confidence,” Fox later added. “I’ve seen him have success; maybe not super recently, but in spurts, in sections of his career. Now, like anybody, it’s becoming more consistent with that success.”