Cutler back in charge of Bears offense

Jay Cutler , after a shaky start on Sunday, guided the Bears to three fourth-quarter touchdowns. AP
Jay Cutler , after a shaky start on Sunday, guided the Bears to three fourth-quarter touchdowns. AP
Posted: December 21, 2013

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - An element of serenity surrounds the Chicago Bears as they head into Sunday night's game against the Eagles, and it has nothing do with Christmas' being a few days away.

Last week's questions about whether Jay Cutler should be back as quarterback are gone. Cutler led the Bears to three fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 38-31 Chicago win over Cleveland and the "noise," which was the word the Bears used to refer to the quarterback controversy.

Although backup Josh McCown played very well in seven games - he was named NFC offensive player of the week after Chicago's 45-28 victory over Dallas on Dec. 9 - first-year coach Marc Trestman gave the job back to Cutler, who had been out with an ankle sprain.

Cutler admitted he was not playing with blinders on when he resumed his duties.

"It would be a lie to say we weren't aware of it, that is unreasonable. Everyone is human in this building," Cutler said. "Another reason why I acknowledged it is we were able to hear it and deal with it in our certain way and move on and get the job done on Sunday."

When Cutler got off to a rough start in Cleveland with two first-half interceptions, one being in the end zone, the other being run back for a touchdown, Trestman's decision looked riskier.

But at least on the Chicago sideline, there was no panic.

"He handled it well," said wide receiver Earl Bennett, who has played with Cutler both in college at Vanderbilt and for five seasons with the Bears. "We faced some adversity early in the game on Sunday, but we were able to shake it off, and you were able to see the things he did."

Overall at Cleveland, Cutler went 22 for 31, passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 102.2.

"It confirmed the type of person and, more importantly in this case, the type of player he is capable of being in terms of playing under the pressures, handling adversity, and being able to move forward and turn something so negative into a positive," Trestman said. "He can have bad things happen and turn it into something good."

With all questions about the starting role quashed, Cutler concedes he is more relaxed heading into Sunday's game.

"Last week was a tough week with everything surrounding it and the implications of the game if we did lose the game. All those things weigh on you, and so to be able to move on from that, I think this week is a tougher week game-plan-wise for us, but we should be up to the challenge."

This latest episode was just another chapter in Cutler's tumultuous career in Chicago. The Bears, who have been looking for a solid, dependable quarterback for generations, thought Cutler may have been the answer when they traded two first-round picks to Denver in 2009.

The results have been mixed. On the one hand, in 65 games in Chicago, Cutler ranks in the top two in virtually every team passing category. But Chicago has won only one playoff game in five seasons and Cutler, 30, has had some injury problems. Moreover, a personality that can be viewed as standoffish at times has not endeared him to the Chicago fans.

Cutler's future in Chicago after this season is murky at best. His contract is expiring, and the Bears have the option to place the franchise tag on him, sign him to a long-term deal, or simply let him walk away via free agency. Reports have surfaced he may be of interest to the Tennessee Titans.

Notes. Linebacker Lance Briggs practiced in a limited way with the team Thursday. "We'll find out soon. As soon as the doctors clear me," he said.

Trestman was vague on the availability of Briggs. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall practice after missing Wednesday with a sore quad. Trestman said he was limited.

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