Key Matchup: Chicago Bears’ Jimmy Clausen vs. Detroit Lions’ Pass Rush


As the saying goes, if a team has two quarterbacks, it probably doesn’t have one. That’s the case the Chicago Bears find themselves in this weekend, as they switch from Jay Cutler to backup Jimmy Clausen.

In a move that surely doesn’t inspire late-season confidence in anyone, Bears’ coach Marc Trestman shockingly elected to go with Clausen against the Detroit Lions amid looking for an offensive shakeup. Cutler has looked completely lost on the field, and Trestman likely wants to see what he has elsewhere, seeing if that might jump-start the team.

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That doesn’t change the fact that Clausen is a career backup.

In other words, now would probably be a bad time to tell him that the Lions’ defensive line has collected 12 sacks in the last three weeks, constricting Cutler in the second half on Thanksgiving, inducing pain on Josh McCown, a week later and confusing Teddy Bridgewater a week after that.

As the season hits its stride, Detroit’s defensive line is getting busy, changing the outcome of games with bull rushes and big sacks, helping supplement the play of their defensive secondary. This season, with consistent help from the line, it’s no wonder that the Lions’ backfield hasn’t seen their usual second half collapse.

This week, many will argue the Lions face all the pressure, playing with their playoff lives at stake against the lowly Bears, who are simply looking to finish the season out. While elements of that might be true, once the game kicks off, all the pressure will squarely shift to the shoulders of Clausen.

He’ll be the one facing rushes from Ndamukong Suh, Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones and company, and likely the one forced to make quick decisions on the run. How Clausen handles that heat will determine who wins the game. If he manages it well and the Bears’ offense has a pulse, that will be a significant development, and could force the Lions’ offense to make a few more big plays.

How Clausen handles the heat will determine who wins the game.

On the flip side, if Clausen isn’t able to find his targets and achieve more offensive flow than Cutler, expect the Lions to win fairly easy. Given all of Detroit’s firepower up front, things could go from bad to worse for the Bears in a hurry, especially if turnovers become a significant issue.

The Lions have been beaten by more than a few backup quarterbacks throughout their past, meaning this weekend’s match up will certainly be the one to watch closest.