Commentary

Jimmy Clausen perfect remedy for Bears

After losing Jay Cutler, Chicago looks to wreak havoc on opposing quarterback

Updated: October 8, 2010, 8:22 PM ET
By Jon Greenberg | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Almost lost in the wake of Jay Cutler's concussion and the overwhelming lousiness of last week's game in New Jersey is the Chicago Bears' felicitous matchup against Jimmy Clausen.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Clausen
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesJimmy Clausen has a passer rating of 59.6, which should have the Bears licking their chops.

If you hated watching Cutler get knocked around by the Giants, you'll be able to enjoy the schadenfreude this week, as the Bears are sure to give the Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback a game he won't soon forget.

Clausen is just the medicine the Bears need after a debilitating loss Sunday night. And he won't be bad for the fans either. Rooting against Clausen is easier than sacking Cutler.

Lance Briggs plans on painting the erstwhile Golden Domer a nice shade of Carolina black and blue.

"It's good to get him moving, get a good pass rush when he's trying to pass the ball, make it hard for him," Briggs told reporters at Halas Hall on Thursday. "Make it very difficult for him, give him welcome-to-the-NFL type of situations."

A welcome-to-the-NFL situation for a rookie quarterback is typically chased by an ice pack and some Tylenol. Wait until Clausen sees Julius Peppers coming at him with a head of steam.

Clausen, the enduring symbol of the quick and disappointing Charlie Weis era, was 11-of-21 for 146 yards in the Panthers' 16-14 loss to New Orleans last week, connecting on a 55-yard touchdown pass to running back Jonathan Stewart. Of course, that play was mostly on Stewart, and Clausen, just in his second start and third game, had some major problems directing the offense in a timely manner. He also had several passes batted down at the line, and took a sack at an inopportune time.

Football Outsiders ranks quarterbacks by a stat called DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement), which is explained as "the value of the quarterback's performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage."

For instance, Peyton Manning's DYAR is tops in the league at 712 and Kyle Orton is second at 518. Cutler, after last week's hit parade, is 19th at 90. Clausen is 32nd at -113, in between Dennis Dixon and Derek Anderson. He's 29th in quarterback rating, again ahead of Anderson, who was benched for this week in favor of another rookie, Max Hall.

A scuffling rookie quarterback without the injured Steve Smith bodes well for a Bears defense that leads the league in fumbles per drive, according to Football Outsiders, and is fifth in third-down efficiency, proving that despite ...

You know what, forget the nerd stuff for a second.

If you're a Bears fan, you're probably a meathead on Sundays. The only math you're worried about trying to figure out is the scoreboard while calculating fantasy points and how many ounces of beer you've consumed.

You probably still hate Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo and anyone named McCaskey, and you surely despise the truly offensive line.

You're disillusioned that Cutler is out and 38-year-old Todd Collins is in. You're still steaming over that Sunday night debacle and not looking forward to the Bears being the worst game on the slate for a second straight week.

So in lieu of Cutler carving up the Panthers and lighting up the field with his effervescent smile, cheering for the defense to rough up Clausen should brighten anyone's day, even if you're a diehard Notre Dame fan.

You want to see Peppers envelop Clausen with his massive wingspan and Briggs come flying in through the gaps. You want to see Tim Jennings on a corner blitz and Peanut Tillman with a pick.

I'm not rooting for Clausen to get a concussion or a serious injury, just a good old-fashioned football hangover.

Trust me, the Bears are psyched for it, too. Rookie quarterbacks are like a stimulant for defenses, especially ones as veteran-laden and confident as the Bears', who have struggled to finish at the quarterback this year. Against a below-average Panthers line (12 sacks allowed), I'm willing to bet the Chicago defense leaves Carolina happy and satiated.

[+] EnlargeLance Briggs
John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireLance Briggs is planning a welcome-to-the-NFL moment for Jimmy Clausen.

Clausen is the type of quarterback who makes defensive ends and cornerbacks and pretty much everyone else in opposing jerseys salivate. He's not terrible, like the army of Hutchinsons the Bears have trotted out in the past, but aside from a penchant to make mistakes (watch the ESPN clip of him and Jon Gruden in which he blames an Irish receiver for an interception), he's just got that look.

You know what I'm talking about.

At the Bears' pregame meeting Saturday night, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli should just show his charges the picture, you know the picture, of a high school-aged Clausen and his spiky hair and a kiss-the-ring pose with his ridiculous assortment of baubles he won in high school.

It's a loathsome shot, and I believe it's half the reason people hate the kid in the first place.

Rod should just project that picture on a screen and say nothing else about it. I guarantee that would be good for four sacks and two turnovers alone.

Of course, really rooting against Clausen is tricky if you're a Notre Dame fan and a Bears backer. After all, you have those unforgettable memories of Clausen piloting those 7-6 and 6-6 juggernauts.

Despite my negativity, I'm kind of rooting for Clausen to stick around in the league, because there are far too many bland, forgettable starting quarterbacks. For every Brett Favre, there's a Josh Freeman or a Shaun Hill, guys you can't pick out of a lineup.

And hating coddled quarterbacks, reveling in their mistakes, is as much fun as gambling on second halves of "Monday Night Football" games. (Um, so I've heard.)

So forget about the Bears' offensive troubles, and they are myriad, and focus your hate away from the Bears' braintrust and Greg Olsen's blocking skills.

Jimmy Clausen is here to help ease your pain.

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

Jon Greenberg

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com. He has lived and worked in Chicago since 2003, and is a graduate of Ohio University and the University of Chicago.