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Bears’ Clausen injured, Cutler ‘ready to go’

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears haven’t seen the last of Jay Cutler after all.

A week after being benched, and with his NFL future cloudy, Cutler became the starting quarterback for Sunday’s season finale at Minnesota because quarterback Jay Clausen suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit delivered by Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah last Sunday.

Clausen finished the game without showing visible symptoms following the blow to the head that actually knocked off his helmet. He went through a postgame press conference without seeming to be affected, but Sunday night he had to be taken to a hospital with what the Bears called “delayed” symptoms of a concussion.

“Last night I received a call from our trainers that Jimmy had signs of a concussion,” coach Marc Trestman said. “And after examination this morning we’ve ruled him out.”

Trestman said the decision to rule him out so soon was made by doctors, and that no thought was given to starting rookie quarterback David Fales, who was just promoted from the practice squad last week.

“Jay is clearly our best option in this case,” Trestman said. “Dave has worked very hard. He has certainly not had the opportunities because the opportunities that Jimmy’s had throughout the season, David has not had. A much different situation.

“But certainly Jay gives us the best option. He was the quarterback when we played Minnesota in the first game, he’ll be the quarterback this Sunday and David will be in a backup position.”

Cutler didn’t talk to media Monday, but Trestman said the much-maligned quarterback told him, “I’ll be ready to go.”

Trestman’s own tentative coaching situation and Cutler’s struggles with turnovers make for an interesting conclusion to the season.

The duo is reunited after it seemed last week that Trestman was throwing Cutler under the bus in order to prove his offensive system could work with a different quarterback. Clausen delivered to some extent Sunday, giving the Bears a chance to win on their final drive after they had been soundly beaten in three straight games. However, the offense ultimately produced only 14 points, matching a season low.

Trestman doubts there will be a problem working with Cutler again after he seemingly cast aside his starter. Trestman has never called the benching an attempt to do anything beyond provide “a spark” for the offense.

“I said very specifically that I believe that Jay can work his way out of this (slump),” Trestman said, pointing out he has continued to support Cutler. “And I’ve enjoyed coaching him and working with him. And we had dialogue last week. And we worked together last week.

“It (the benching) was a tough week on him. I empathize with him on that. But we’re moving forward, both with the idea that we’ve worked together for a long time and that hasn’t changed.”

Several Bears have expressed irritation about learning through Trestman via social media last week that their quarterback was being benched. On Monday, sidelined kicker Robbie Gould told WSCR-AM he thought Cutler was being made into a scapegoat by Trestman.

“I think when you’re having a tough season like this (year), he’s not the scapegoat or the guy to be blamed,” Gould said. “There’s a lot of guys you can put that blame on. Unfortunately, I don’t know if necessarily he’s the guy that he should take the entire blame because he doesn’t deserve it.”

Gould said the entire team has struggled and Cutler is only a small part of it.

“So it’s Jay’s not the problem. Jay’s not the issue,” Gould said.

Instead, he suggested problems within the locker room and player-coaching relationships have eaten away at the team.

“Honestly, it’s not the Bear way,” Gould said. “This whole season is not the Bear way. Pointing fingers, things getting out of the locker room. That’s not the Chicago Bear way.

“I think for me, being around an organization for now 10 years, seeing guys like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs who have played or walked through the tunnel for the last time, it’s tough. Because we weren’t taught this way under Lovie (Smith). We weren’t taught to do these sort of things. We always stayed together as close-knit as we possibly could.”

The comments added fuel to the fire of discontent building around Trestman, if not the dismissal also of general manager Phil Emery.

NOTES: The NFL suspended Detroit Lions C Dominic Raiola for the season finale for stomping on Bears DL Ego Ferguson’s ankle during the third quarter. … RG Kyle Long suffered a late-week hip injury that limited him at Friday’s practice, and he was a last-minute scratch. This meant a start for Michael Ola at right guard for the first time, while Ryan Groy started at left guard. It was the ninth starting offensive line used by the Bears this season, but they allowed just two sacks.

REPORT CARD VS. LIONS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus — Bears receivers dropped so many passes that it looked like they were the team adjusting from playing indoors to playing a game in 30-degree temperatures. The drops made a shambles of Jimmy Clausen’s attempt to pull off the upset. Clausen was efficient but did throw the final fourth-down interception downfield. Pass blocking was better than what the Lions had, and the Bears allowed only two sacks with their ninth different starting offensive line. Tight end Martellus Bennett was held to one catch for no yards and had a drop.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The runs didn’t prove decisive as only two of the rushing attempts resulted in first downs. Committing to 19 rushing attempts helped keep the Lions’ defensive line from teeing off and let Clausen go into attack mode.

–PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — Cornerback Kyle Fuller got much more physical with Calvin Johnson than in the first game and cut his catches from 11 to six — only one in the second half. Interceptions by Brock Vereen and Ryan Mundy showed Bears safeties actually can make plays on the football. Cornerback Tim Jennings has struggled down the stretch and his key 46-yard pass interference penalty was the play Detroit needed to set up the go-ahead touchdown. With four sacks, the pass rush was consistent throughout.

–RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus — They allowed Detroit a season-high 138 yards, and Joique Bell piled up big yards late against the Bears’ linebackers and line. Poor tackling resulted in one Detroit touchdown. Still, it didn’t rank as one of their worst efforts against the run overall.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus — Incredibly, Bears special teams took a big step up, as a muffed punt and alert recovery by Sherrick McManis and a deflected field goal from Jeremiah Ratliff proved big on the scoreboard. Marc Mariani averaged 24.1 yards per kick return.

–COACHING: B — The game plan was exactly what they should have had offensively in the first game, using the run occasionally and getting passes outside with a mix of intermediate throws. The fact that Marc Trestman could implement this with an inexperienced QB trying to shake off rust on only two days of work is impressive. The defensive plan was also solid, utilizing a strong inside rush to keep Matthew Stafford from getting his feet planted to throw. However, the defense succumbed late largely due to mistakes.


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