Jay Cutler is not the quarterback that the Chicago Bears need.
That being said, neither is Jimmy Clausen, David Fales, or Shane Carden, so don’t go calling for them Week 2 when the Arizona Cardinals and their restricting defense come to Soldier Field.
So what is Chicago to do with the slew of quarterbacks on their roster?
Cutler is signed through 2020 thanks to the seven-year deal that he received after an injury plagued 2013. He’s not going to go anywhere unless Chicago gets an offer that they can’t refuse, which is highly unlikely given his inconsistencies and lack of success in the playoffs.
Jimmy Clausen, 27, is entrenched as the back-up and performed well when called upon last year. In his lone start against the Detroit Lions in Week 16, Clausen threw for 223 yards, a pair of touchdowns and one interception on 26-of-48 passing. It was also his first regular season action since 2010, when he started for the Carolina Panthers as a rookie. He is working on a one-year deal.
David Fales and Shane Carden are both longshots to make the final 53-man roster. The former, having spent the majority of last season on the practice squad, while the latter is an undrafted rookie free-agent.
As mentioned previously, neither one of these quarterbacks should be the answer for the Bears.
Clausen, while he performed adamantly against a stout Detroit defense, is not a starting caliber NFL quarterback. Most quarterbacks would be in their prime at this point in his career, while he is still biding his time holding the clipboard. Coming out of college, the knock on David Fales was his arm strength and size. At 6-1, he simply doesn’t have the cannon that most successful NFL quarterbacks have.
As for Carden, at the NFL Scouting Combine, one AFC national scout told NFL.com, “He looks like he’s throwing a javelin and he is on the wrong side of where we want quarterbacks to be in terms of athleticism, arm strength and accuracy, but his intangibles are way up there. I absolutely love his competitive nature but I wish he had better traits.”
If Chicago wants to find their quarterback of the future, they should look elsewhere.
Where, you ask?
Why not Tennessee?
Sitting behind second overall pick Marcus Mariota on the Tennessee Titan’s depth chart is former seventh-round pick Zach Mettenberger.
In seven games, Mettenberger completed almost 60% of his passes for 1,412 yards, eight touchdowns, and 11 total turnovers for a miserable Titans team. At 6-5 with a big arm, he has the tools that NFL offensive coordinators drool over. The 24-year-old quarterback now finds himself behind 21-year-old Mariota. There are multiple problems with that scenario.
Obviously, Mettenberger wants to start. At 24, he still needs some work, but showed promise as a rookie. Tennessee’s focus right now however should be on developing the rookie Mariota since the invested such a high draft pick in him. Trying to develop both quarterbacks would only hinder them, as only one would get the reps that they really need.
Also, teams with rookie quarterbacks often opt for experienced veterans as their main backups, not second year players. While Charlie Whitehurst is no wealth of quarterbacking knowledge, he offers more experience than Mettenberger. On August 14, NFL Media’s Michael Robinson stated that the gunslinger out of LSU is one of the good 32 quarterbacks in the league.
No, Zach Mettenberger would not unseat Jay Cutler just yet. He would however, provide more promise to the future than any quarterback on the roster.
Giving up something along the lines of a third-round pick and a player doesn’t sound like too much for someone who could be a building block for the future. He can learn a new system behind Jay Cutler who, despite a few injuries here and there, has stayed healthy for most of his career.
It’s either that, or watch floundering quarterback play all the way to a top five pick in the 2016 draft.