Even in Bears' loss, Trestman backs Cutler

  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler looks for an open man during the first half of the Bears 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on Sunday.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler looks for an open man during the first half of the Bears 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Josh McCown looks for an open receiver during the Bears' last drive Sunday.

    Josh McCown looks for an open receiver during the Bears' last drive Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Updated 11/10/2013 10:26 PM

About 20 minutes after Nick Fairley danced and skipped from the 5-yard line all the way to the middle of the field and slapped his palm down on the giant "C" at Soldier Field -- having just extinguished Matt Forte's 2-point conversion attempt -- Jay Cutler and Josh McCown sat together and spoke quietly at their lockers.

The conversation seemed to be about McCown's first conversion attempt that went incomplete before a roughing the passer penalty gave them a second try.


With Cutler in street clothes and McCown in uniform, Cutler gesturing and perhaps even coaching, it was difficult to avoid the symbolism.

McCown has finished the last two games Cutler started -- both defeats -- and won a huge game in Green Bay in between, having done nothing to damage the Bears' confidence in their backup quarterback.

That's crucial because Cutler is again questionable for the next game after the Bears' 21-19 loss to Detroit Sunday, in which Cutler added an ankle injury to the sore groin that is not yet 100 percent.

"I knew I wasn't gonna be able to move around like I normally would," Cutler admitted postgame, speaking of his first injury. "If anything, I thought I might aggravate my groin a little. Then, I got rolled on (the ankle) and I was really restricted.

"That's football. We'll see what it's like tomorrow."

The last few days have been a constant reminder, however, that Marc Trestman still prefers his starting quarterback at significantly less than 100 percent over a career backup, regardless of how well McCown plays, because even though the Bears pronounced Cutler cleared to play, it doesn't mean he was completely healthy.

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"We took his movements out of the game plan," Trestman said. "This happens during the course of seasons with quarterbacks. We all know that. We've been a part of that. I would not have had him in there if I thought -- or our trainers thought -- he could hurt himself anymore. That wasn't an issue."

So even before the ankle injury severely limited his mobility, Cutler passed on opportunities to step well up into the pocket or scramble for first downs.

"I didn't want to take him out unless he felt he couldn't do the job," Trestman said. "He had, I thought, a very courageous performance throughout."

After the ankle injury, Cutler's mobility was even less, and never more apparent than with 6:20 left in the game and the Bears down 14-13. On second-and-11 from the Bears' 35, Cutler with great protection overthrew a wide-open Brandon Marshall deep down the right side.


On third down, not only was Cutler unable to step up and hit Alshon Jeffery, skipping a throw at the receiver's feet, but he had 20 yards of open field in front of him and an easy first down with his legs -- if he had been able to run.

"That's the cost-benefit analysis reasoning you make when you have your quarterback in there who's limited with his mobility," Trestman said. "We elected to keep him in the game and that's the price we paid for his inability to make the run at that time.

"He was also the guy we felt could be back there to make the throw at the right time at the right place, if he had the opportunity."

The next possession was the Bears' final chance to tie it down 21-13, and that's when Trestman went to McCown, who led the Bears 74 yards in 10 plays (1:42) for a touchdown, before they failed on both 2-point conversion attempts.

"The best option for the team was to put Josh in, especially with them dropping, playing Cover-2," Cutler said. "You're going to have to move a little bit and I just wasn't able to do it."

So if you're looking for clues about Cutler's future with the Bears and Trestman's fondness for No. 6, look no further than the last four days.

"It meant a lot," Cutler said of Trestman's trust. "I just asked him at one point, 'Do I look OK? Am I still getting it done?' Because I felt really restricted in the pocket. The ball wasn't getting out as quick. Some of my throws didn't have as much hum as I wanted."

For that reason, if Cutler is still limited by either of his injuries going into Sunday's home game against the Ravens, Trestman might have no choice but to select McCown.

Even if he does, read nothing more into it than an ailing quarterback unable to get it done, because Trestman's actions have spoken loud of late.

For now and into the future, Jay Cutler is his quarterback.


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