It’s good to be the king, but it’s also good to be the incumbent starting quarterback. Or in other words, it’s good to be Jay Cutler — for now.
Cutler’s had it pretty rough for the past six weeks or so — an initial attempt at a return from an October groin injury got shut down when he suffered a high ankle sprain while eluding the Detroit front four. In his time out, Cutler’s understudy dazzled much more than he fizzled, helping show some of the most crystal-clear examples of what Marc Trestman’s offense can do in Chicago.
A fair amount of people would like to see McCown continue to be the only person under center for the Bears, hoping even that Cutler may have taken his last snap as a Bear, but there will be at least one more coming in the Bears’ first drive at Cleveland this Sunday.
Beyond that, who the hell knows what’s going to happen. It stands to reason that if McCown has to come back in on a white horse once more to save an injured Cutler and the Bears offense then the job will be his for the remainder of the season.
If Cutler comes in and plays some of the best ball of his Bears career then Trestman is seen as the brilliant tactician we’ve believed him to be at times along with being worthy of praise for his loyalty to the starter he inherited — you’d have to figure that a Cutler-led surge at the end of this season would be a by-product of faith instilled in the guy by his coach.
But what if Cutler is so-so? What if Cutler is the guy we’ve seen mostly as a Bear — physically gifted and able to make plays many other QBs can’t while making other plays that the best QBs wont, game-losing plays.
What if Cutler continues to be the guy who so far this season has thrown touchdowns at about a 1.25-1 ratio to his interceptions (13-8), not much of a comparison to a 13-1 ratio (McCown, duh).
If that’s the case, the Bears may just have to take their lumps…but to whom does this franchise really answer to? Does Cutler and his remaining promise as a franchise QB really hold the immediate future of the Bears this much at hostage? Depends on how you look at it.
I preferred to look at it like that while I was watching McCown do his thing Monday night, lighting up the Cowboys and earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, but I have shifted a bit in the time since. It is essential at this point that the Bears figure for good whether or not they want Cutler in their system, literally and figuratively.
If Cutler makes his last stand, the Bears win the NFC North and salvage a playoff run out of a season full of instability and devastating injury than he’s good, they’ll have only one option contract-wise with him and we go forward with a starter on solid ground, backed up with a man we know can do his job.
If Cutler falls short somehow then the off-season choice again should be easy and a playoff run could still be salvageable, that is if Trestman unleashes the hook at the right time. And by the way, McCown starting at least one playoff game this season is indeed the ceiling the 34-year-old career backup has in Chicago. Anyone seeing the guy past that doesn’t deserve to be involved in any Bears quarterback debate.
There is no reason for the Bears to sell themselves short this time around — the division is still for the taking, one of the other contenders is hopelessly in search of consistency and the other may have to wait until next summer to see their knight back in shining armor.
Meanwhile, the Bears have options available and they should be valued, both of them. In the words of a would-be king of the Baltimore underground, this sounds like one of them good problems.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and Kyle Means @Wrk_Wrt