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How Genuine is John Fox about ‘Open Competition’ in Chicago?

Jay Cutler stands to make a cool $15 million this NFL season. For every head coach in the league, that would seem like reason enough to ride out 2015 with your big money signal caller. Every one, that is, except John Fox. The new man in Chicago turned heads yesterday when he declared Cutler would have to earn the job in an “open competition.”

But how serious is Fox about these controversial comments? It’s a fair statement to make if your team shelters two or more quarterbacks of equal skill and salary, but the entirety of Cutler’s competition in 2015 training camp looks set to be Jimmy Clausen and David Fales – two men whose combined yearly earnings would barely cover one of Jay’s family vacations.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Dallas CowboysBig money doesn’t always equal big wins, but financial matters aside, it’s hard to believe anyone but the polarising number 6 could take the reigns in time for kickoff weekend. Cutler was indeed benched for Clausen late last year, but that is little indication of future prospects given the season was already a lost cause at that point, governed by a megalomaniacal head coach hell bent on leaving “on his own terms.”

So why, then, would Fox exclaim so explicitly that the team’s most important position is again up for grabs? The easy answer would be diplomacy. After all, it’s not like head coaches to spill their starting lineup this early in the year. Except that that’s exactly the case when it comes to franchise quarterbacks. Teams satisfied with their man under center aren’t afraid to announce it to the world. It shows stability in the franchise, and confidence in their chosen leader.

There is nothing wrong with Fox encouraging each player to do their best in training camp. It just seems that, after such a disastrous 2014 campaign, the Bears should be trying to build around their veteran quarterback, not looking for another escape clause in case of emergency.

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