A Chicago Bears back up quarterback has started 13 games since the 2010 season, with a total of 27 game appearances in that time. Granted a few of those appearances were by coaches' decision and not because the starter was forced out due to injury, but that's still a lot of playing time for the back ups.
Since starting all 16 games in 2009, his first year as a Bear, Jay Cutler has started 15, 10, 15 and 11 games in the subsequent four seasons. I'm not predicting an injury will befall Jay in 2014, but the odds say he will miss some time. Hopefully he starts all 16 games, but if not, is there another QB on the roster that you feel good about?
Consider the career stat line from Chicago back up option (A), Jordan Palmer. Four mop-up duty appearances since 2008, with 10 completions in 15 attempts, for 59 yards and 2 interceptions. He hasn't thrown a ball in an NFL game since 2010. Yeah he looked adequate in the 4th preseason game last year, and yes he's being taught by the quarterback whisperer. But come on man, you have no reason to believe he'll do any better than past Bear nincompoop QBs Todd Collins or Johnathan Quinn.
Now we also have QB option (B), Jimmy Clausen. He also hasn't thrown a pass since 2010, when he was forced into action as a rookie on a poor Carolina Panthers team. That year he played in 13 games with 10 starts. He went 1-9 as a starter and he finished the season with a 58.4 QB rating. His completion percentage was a pedestrian 52.5%. Out of the 31 QBs that threw enough passes to qualify among the league leaders, Clausen was dead last in rating, yards per attempt (5.2) and yards per completion (9.9). It was a bad year for the former Golden Domer.
Clausen tore his labrum in 2012, but he's reportedly 100% now. During the Bears three day mini camp, Clausen impressed enough to ensure his spot on the 90 man roster heading into training camp. From an experience standpoint, he has the edge, but Palmer should have a better grasp of the playbook.
Neither back up option is a good one in my opinion, and please don't even try to argue that rookie David Fales has a shot. He's not ready for pro football quite yet and a trip to the practice squad seems to be in his future. And one more thing, if you're readying a Jordan Lynch as back up QB argument, you should go find the nearest freezer and place your head inside for about an hour.
The Bears need the #2 QB to be a competent place holder if Jay Cutler goes down. He doesn't have to put up Josh McCown type numbers, but he has to carry himself with the confidence of a Pro, and he needs to be smart with the football.
Hopefully we'll never see the #2 QB this year in a meaningful game, but if the Bears expect to battle for a playoff spot -- and they do -- the #2 QB may need to win a couple of games.