As expected, Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman announced on Thursday that Jay Cutler will return as the starting quarterback of the Bears on Sunday when the team plays the Cleveland Browns.
“We plan on him playing, and we plan on him playing well,” Trestman said Thursday. “I expect Jay to play efficiently and play well on Sunday. That’s why he’s gonna be up.”-Marc Trestman, ESPN Chicago
There had been debate among media members and Bears fans about who the starting quarterback of the Bears should be, but Trestman and the Bears never wavered.
“We have a very close quarterback room,” Trestman said Thursday. “Everybody knows our situation. There was never a doubt that this was the direction we were gonna go. We said that from the beginning. Josh did a tremendous job filling in as the backup. Jay’s healthy and ready to go and will play on Sunday.”-Trestman, ESPN Chicago
Cutler is returning to the lineup after suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Detroit Lions on November 10. Cutler has not played a full game since the Bears victory over the New York Giants in Week 6. When Cutler has played healthy this season, the quarterback has played well under Trestman. Cutler has a passer rating of 88.4 this season to go along with a completion percentage of 63 percent to go along with 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Meanwhile, in place of Cutler this season, Josh McCown has a passer rating of 109.8 to go along with a completion percentage of 66.8 with 13 touchdowns and 1 interception.
McCown has been tremendous this season. The problem is many fans can’t simply compliment McCown without saying he should be the starting quarterback. McCown did a tremendous job as being the backup quarterback starting in place of Cutler.
But, there is no question that Cutler needs to be starting these final three games for the Bears. Cutler is probably going to be the long-term fixture for the Bears at the quarterback position. Credit McCown for turning that sentiment into “probably” after it was a certainty when the season began. These final three games will go a long way in determining Cutler’s future.
Nonetheless, the pressure is on Cutler. The same pressure that Cutler faced at the end of the 2008 season with the Denver Broncos. Cutler entered the last game of the 2008 season playing against the San Diego Chargers. Cutler and the Broncos needed to win that game in order to make the playoffs. Cutler threw for over 300 yards in that game but also had two interceptions as the Broncos lost that game. What followed was a coaching change that ultimately led to Cutler being traded to the Bears.
If Cutler succeeds under this current pressure facing him, there is no question that he will have earned his long-term contract from the Bears this off-season. If not, then there will be a full-fledged quarterback controversy in Chicago.