With QB debate over, Bears focus on playoff run
The great quarterback debate in Chicago is over. Now, the Bears
can focus on a bigger issue, like making the playoffs.
They got Jay Cutler back from an ankle injury and took a step
toward the postseason with a 38-31 victory at Cleveland on
The Bears are one game ahead of Detroit in the NFC North after
the Lions lost to the Ravens on Monday night.
Chicago (8-6) has back-to-back wins just when it looked as if it
was dropping out of contention. They Bears are in a better spot now
as they get ready to visit Philadelphia this weekend.
Cutler overcame a shaky start against the Browns while
completing 22 of 31 passes for 265 yards after missing the previous
four games with a high left ankle sprain. He also validated coach
Marc Trestman’s decision to go with him even though Josh McCown had
played so well in his absence.
”It means a lot,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. ”If he can
do that, if he can live up to his word with the way Josh was
playing, then you know if he can do that and let the quarterback
know he can do it … He was just being true to his team, true to
his word. And that just means a lot to our team.”
Trestman had said for weeks that the job was Cutler’s when he
was ready to return.
Even so, there was plenty of debate leading up to the game.
There were reports of division in the locker room, and Cutler
even acknowledged after the game that he was feeling some extra
pressure. He talked to Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte and the
leaders on the offensive line in Roberto Garza and Bushrod to make
sure they were on board with him playing.
Trestman was adamant, and he saw no need to take the temperature
of the locker room. In his mind, playing Cutler was the right
decision – period. And he made that clear early on.
”I stayed resolute, I think, in that I felt it was in the best
interest of the team from the beginning to make sure that everybody
knew the direction that we were going to go,” Trestman said.
Cutler threw two first-half interceptions but came on strong
down the stretch, finishing with three touchdown passes to help the
Bears strengthen their playoff standing. They could get another
boost this week if star linebacker Lance Briggs returns from his
fractured shoulder. Trestman said the Bears will make a decision on
He also said to forget about cornerback Charles Tillman
returning in the playoffs. Tillman tore his triceps against Detroit
on Nov. 10 and the Bears left open the possibility of a comeback in
the playoffs after he was injured against Detroit on Nov. 10 by
placing him on the injured reserve/designated to return list.
Tillman was eligible to start practicing this week, but Trestman
said the two-time Pro Bowl pick is out for the rest out for the
rest of the season.
As for Cutler, Trestman liked what he saw on Sunday.
”We all saw how he handled the adversity in the game,” he
said. ”It didn’t start out well for him. … I’m sure the way his
teammates rallied around him – not just the offensive side, the
entire team rallied around him. It wasn’t a good start, we all know
that. The team continued to move forward and play hard.”
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org