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updated: 10/22/2013 12:11 AM

Injury muddles up picture for Cutler, Bears

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  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is sacked by Washington defensive end Chris Baker during Sunday's loss. Cutler suffered a groin injury on the play.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is sacked by Washington defensive end Chris Baker during Sunday's loss. Cutler suffered a groin injury on the play.
    Associated Press


Jay Cutler has demonstrated an ability to polarize Bears fans, plural.

Heck, he can even polarize a Bears fan, singular.

The same person can think one thing about Cutler one moment and the exact opposite the next moment.

Cutler is great; no, he stinks. He's the franchise's best quarterback since Sid Luckman; no, he's the worst since Cade McNown. The Bears should sign him to a long-term contract; no, they should release him.

I have gone back and forth on Cutler since the Bears created a local holiday by trading for him in 2009.

Cutler's physical gifts are fascinating; he's an underachiever. His performance thrilled; his next performance chilled. His postgame comments are profound; his next postgame comments are confounding.

Phil Emery hasn't wavered publicly in his admiration of Cutler as an NFL quarterback. But, wait, wasn't everything the Bears' general manager said about Brian Urlacher last off-season similarly complimentary?

Now Urlacher is retired after Emery declined to give him enough money to keep playing. So will Cutler sign with, say, Arizona or Minnesota or Tampa Bay after the Bears let him become a free agent after this season?

Today my mood is that Cutler's departure wouldn't be heartbreaking. Tomorrow, next week or next month who knows, it might be heartbreaking?

Cutler currently has a torn muscle in his groin that will keep him out of the lineup at least four weeks. What happened after he left Sunday's game at Washington raised more doubts in my mind about him.

For some reason, the quarterbacks or something else, the Bears' offense ran so much more crisply in the second half under Josh McCown than it had in the first half under Jay Cutler.

This isn't to suggest that Cutler isn't a better quarterback than McCown. It's to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the type of quarterback McCown is fits head coach Marc Trestman's offense better than the type of quarterback Cutler does.

The West Coast offense doesn't require Cutler's big arm. More important is the ability to think quickly, make the right play at the right time, feel the entire field, understand where everybody is going, realize what the defense is doing, understand how to adjust on the fly to the opposition's adjustments.

The Bears provide their quarterback with quality weapons now, along with actual NFL schemes, game plans and play calling. A smart person and quarterback, Cutler still has to prove in his eighth NFL season that he's as instinctive as he is intelligent and able to maximize all that on a weekly basis.

Considering that McCown at 34 is a career backup, it's doubtful that he can consistently move the ball until Cutler returns. So he isn't the Bears' quarterback of the future, but somebody like him might be more than somebody like Cutler might be.

Think Alex Smith. He was considered a game manager with San Francisco. He still is in Kansas City, where the Chiefs, featuring a premier defense the Bears dream of having some day, are undefeated with him directing the offense.

The ideal West Coast quarterback might be a cross between McCown and Cutler but more McCown than Cutler.

Cutler progressed under Trestman and played well this season. But the West Cost offense looked so much more natural and efficient with McCown and able to control the clock more.

Whether that's how Emery and Trestman viewed the two halves, well, it depends on whether you believe what they say is what they believe.

Maybe the two of them are as polarized on the subject as many other Jay Cutler observers are.

And maybe each of them is polarized in his own head.


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