Can Jordan Palmer Be Chicago Bears' Primary Backup QB?

By Troy Dixon
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Marc Trestman hasn’t given fans too many reasons to doubt his judgment. When he was first hired last year, all the talk was about how proven his track record is with the development of quarterbacks.

Under his tutelage this past season, Jay Cutler set a new career-high mark in passer rating and attained the second-highest QBR of his career. Additionally, he was able to make better use of all the weapons around him. When Cutler went down with injury, Josh McCown was called upon to fill his shoes as the starter. Trestman helped revive the backup’s career.

McCown is now going to compete to be the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. This leaves the Chicago Bears with the large task of finding the player who will be able to adequately backup Cutler this season. Right now, Jordan Palmer is probably going to be that guy and coach Trestman is fine with that.

Palmer signed with the Bears later in the preseason last summer. His preseason performance stood out, but you have to take into account the level of competition he was going against. Those guys were second and third-string guys who were fighting to make the team.

The last time Palmer threw a pass in an NFL regular season game was in 2010, when he was a backup on the Cincinnati Bengals. That year, he was the primary backup behind his older brother Carson Palmer. He has no career touchdown passes, two interceptions, and a career completion percentage over 60 percent.

Normally, a team would be able to deal with that. However, the backup to Cutler will have be ready for the most extreme scenario of being called upon at a moment’s notice due to Cutler’s recent injury history. McCown studied the offense, stayed ready and eventually thrived in Cutler’s absence last year. The difference between Palmer and McCown is that the latter was once a starting quarterback for a franchise. That experience is invaluable.

My original thought was that the Bears should either pursue one of the remaining unheralded quarterbacks on the free agent market, or possibly select a prospect as early as the third round in May’s draft. My eye has been on A.J. McCarron as an early to mid-round draft selection. I believe he has flown under the radar and that his pro potential may be slightly underrated.

As far as the Bears’ current situation goes, Trestman should be trusted as long as his confidence in molding Palmer remains. Ideally, there should be more in-game experience, but Trestman is the quarterback guru. He knows what he’s talking about.

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