“I made a decision to make a change at QB and start Jimmy Clausen,” Trestman said today. “Yesterday, during the day, I met with Jay and Jimmy to tell them my intentions and walk them through the process of how this was going to be handled. Later in the day, I met with [general manager] Phil [Emery] to talk to him about my decision and finalize it in our staff meeting last night as we talk about players and who we’re going to start the week.”
It was a surprising decision, as less than two weeks ago Trestman said he had no intention of benching Cutler.
“I did say that at the time and I’ve changed my mind,” he said. “I definitely said that at the time. I felt like it was ‘as long as Jay was healthy this week’ but I’ve changed my mind. I think this is in the best interest of the team. I think we need a lift at quarterback I think we need a spark.”
Trestman said Cutler’s on-field performance this season, one in which he leads the league in turnovers, was the only criteria for the demotion.
“This is performance-based only,” he said. “We're not getting enough out of our quarterback right now. We didn't this past week. It has nothing to do with attitude. Jay has been extremely professional throughout, including after we talked yesterday.
“We came off two wins. We went into Detroit. We had a competitive first half but didn’t finish that way. We went into Dallas, we had a competitive first half, it was 14-7, and last week I felt that we were not competitive until the end of the game. I felt there was a time that we needed to take a look at Jimmy, let Jay sit back and watch it and that was the decision that was made yesterday, ultimately last night.”
Trestman would not say if Clausen would start the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings. He also said the benching could end up being a good thing for Cutler.
“I can tell you that there have been starters in this league who have had adversity and left their teams or sat and came back on their teams that had success and rebuilt their careers,” he said. “Jay Cutler has invested a lot in this team. He’s physically and emotionally committed to it. He’s had a rough time and I believe he’ll bounce back. That’s what I truly believe.”
While Cutler’s future in Chicago is nebulous, one thing is crystal clear: this was Trestman’s move.
“This was a coaching decision,” Trestman said. “And the people that I work with in the building all said this is a coaching decision, make the coaching decision that you think is appropriate for this time.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.