Many football fans, including Chicago Bears‘ fans, have no idea who Matt Blanchard is. Some know who he is, but don’t know much about him. If you fall into this category, it is time to get to know Blanchard.
Originally an undrafted free agent, Blanchard is coming into his second year in the NFL and did not make the 53-man roster last year. He did, however, sneak through waivers and land on the practice squad. At 24 years old, 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Blanchard came from the University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a Division-III school. He comes into preseason as the third-string quarterback, but with another strong preseason outing, Blanchard could possibly steal the No. 2 spot away from veteran Josh McCown.
Fun fact of the day:
In a three-year period, Blanchard, led his team to an undefeated record while completing over 70 percent of his passes, won three national championships and only threw five interceptions in that process. Talk about overlooked!
Blanchard has good size and surprising athleticism for a good-sized guy. As his college numbers have stated, he makes good decisions and does not throw many interceptions. He has above-average arm strength. He has displayed the ability to abandon the pocket and gain rushing yards (452 yards in 2011). Blanchard is also very alert at the line of scrimmage before the snap and was known in college for calling a good amount of successful audibles.
After redshirting his freshman year and hardly playing his second year for his former Division-II school, Blanchard transferred to Wisconsin-Whitewater where he went on to play his last three season. In those three years, Blanchard threw for just under 5,000 yards, 44 touchdowns and, again, only five total interceptions. Not to mention he completely over 70 percent of his passes and was a constant threat to leave the pocket and grab 10-15 extra yards. Blanchard won the championship each year while there, and was one of four finalists for the Galiardi Trophy. As a senior, Blanchard threw for nearly 3,000 yards.
Blanchard has never made a regular season appearance, but he did play in all four preseason games last year. In only his second week of the preseason, he showed potential while completing 9-of-16 passes for just under 100 yards in limited time.
Last year, Blanchard came in as the fourth-string quarterback behind Jay Cutler, Jason Campbell and McCown. This year, he has the chance to compete for the second-string job against McCown. It will take a convincing preseason to do so, but with the amount of talent Blanchard has, I would not rule it out. Head coach Marc Trestman could use him as a potential pet project and groom him into a possible replacement if things don’t go well for Cutler in his contract season.
Blanchard is a bit of an unknown at this point, but he is still young and has the potential to be a surprise starting quarterback in this league. The biggest hoop he will have to jump through is getting noticed and the right amount of playing time to develop. Development will be key, much like for most rookies, but with innovative offensive mind like Trestman’s, Blanchard could find himself in the right place with something to prove.
Jay Cutler. He may not have the arm or raw ability that Cutler does, but he has the size and potential to be an above-average starting QB in this league.