CHICAGO – By now, Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen both know the routine.
Get through their progressions, get rid of the ball as quickly as possible and then let the offensive weapons around them make plays.
On a night when the Bears racked up 491 yards of total offense in a 34-28 win over the Eagles, the team’s backup quarterbacks experienced varying levels of success in their first showing against live competition.
Clausen and Palmer – along with starter Jay Cutler – each accounted for at least one of the Bears four touchdown passes, completing seven, eight and nine passes, respectively. But each of them – along with sixth-round draft pick David Fales, who played the fourth quarter of Friday’s win – also struggled in their own way.
By the time the night over, whether anything had been settled in regard to who will back up Cutler in the remainder of the preseason or, more importantly, when the regular season begins next month against Buffalo, remains unsettled.
At least for now.
“There are some mistakes out there…there always are,” said Cutler, who played the first two series and followed up a sloppy start with a touchdown drive that resulted in the first of tight end Zach Miller’s two touchdown catches. “(There are) some things to clean up, but the guys were really efficient getting in and out of the huddle, getting the play called, getting to our checks, going through our reads.”
For Palmer, who got the first chance to make his claim for the No. 2 job, things didn’t start smoothly at all.
Palmer has struggled with inconsistency and indecisiveness throughout training camp. Coming in for Cutler and then playing the entire second quarter, Palmer overcame an early interception and a near fumble to connect with Miller on the same play call Cutler had used to produce the Bears’ first touchdown.
“I got to see a little bit of everything – a little bit of pressure, a little bit of adversity,” said Palmer, who finished 8-for-11 for 108 yards and the touchdown pass. “But I thought we played well.”
Palmer was projected to be Cutler’s backup before the Bears signed Clausen. But throughout training camp, he has been viewed as running behind Clausen, who came into camp determined to re-establish himself after a forgettable rookie experience in Carolina.
On Friday, Clausen provided more of a wow-factor, first hitting Chris Williams in stride on a 73-yard touchdown pass before a play in which he went all the way through his reads before connecting with Micheal Spurlock on a 22-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bears a 31-28 lead.
For Clausen, the solid showing was just another step in proving that the Bears made the right choice bringing him in after he hadn’t played for the past two seasons.
“I felt comfortable - every time I get a chance to play, I just have to go out and execute to the best of my ability,” said Clausen, who threw for 150 yards on 7-of-13 passing and finished with a passer rating of 134.6. “I wish I could have some throws back and I’m sure there’s going to be some mistakes on the tape, but we’ll just wait and look at the tape (Saturday) and go from there.”
While Clausen used Friday’s preseason opener as a way to improve his stock, Palmer will use it as another measuring stick. He said he feels more comfortable in Marc Trestman’s offense after using organized team activity workouts and mini-camp to try and show that he deserved the No. 2 job.
But rather than focusing on his early struggles, Palmer chose to focus instead on the scoring drive he engineered, demonstrating that he has the ability to do what his coaches are looking for.
Said Palmer: “Coach (Trestman) always talks about the inevitability of success and adversity striking every person throughout practice, throughout a game and continuing to bounce back and manage that and weather that storm when it happens.”