Jay Cutler: Can Chicago Bears Survive Without Starting QB?


Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler looked like a new player early in the Bears’ Week 2 match-up against the Arizona Cardinals. The end result however, was much less than desired.

Cutler started the game completing eight passes in a row for 120 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown strike to little-used wide receiver Joshua Bellamy. He was also a surprising weapon for the Bears in the running game, carrying the ball three times for 24 yards, as he was being featured in the Bears’ new read option plays.

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Cutler looked smooth and in control, making many think he could have possibly found a home in offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s system. We have seen Cutler perform well in the past, but for the first time in seemingly forever, Cutler looked extremely comfortable out on the field.

Unfortunately, things changed quickly on one play late in the first half. The Cardinals were finally able to disrupt Cutler as his first incompletion of the afternoon was actually intercepted by safety Tony Jefferson deep in Bears’ territory.

Jefferson was able to race 26 yards to the end zone, but more importantly Cutler was injured trying to make a tackle on the play. Leading with his head and landing hard on his right side, countless injuries seemed possible at the time as Cutler left the game and did not return. It was later revealed that the Bears’ quarterback is dealing with a hamstring injury, and while it certainly could be worse, his availability going forward is in question.

Backup Jimmy Clausen completed 14-of-23 passes for 121 yards and an interception in relief of Cutler on Sunday. Clausen looked completely overwhelmed on the field, and while getting thrust into that situation is certainly tough, there is no reason to be optimistic about the Bears’ offense if Clausen is leading the charge. It may be harsh, but if Cutler misses many games, the Bears are in trouble.

First of all, they cannot expect the defense to bail out their offense. Arguably the worst defensive unit in the NFL last season, the addition of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has not paid major dividends for the Bears’ defense through two weeks. While it is important to note that both of the Bears’ opponents so far have high-powered offenses, both the Cardinals and Green Bay Packers seemed to move the ball at will against Fangio’s defense.

I am not saying they cannot turn it around, but after the defensive showing from the past couple of weeks, it would be crazy to expect it to happen.

The Bears’ offense was always supposed to be their stronger unit this season. Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Martellus Bennett and seventh overall pick Kevin White were supposed to make up an impressive stable of position players for Cutler. Unfortunately, injuries have held the Bears’ offensive vision back considerably, and if they are going to lose Cutler, that just makes it worse.

Sep 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) runs after catching a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The fan base may not like him, but Cutler is probably the single most important player on this Bears’ team. While it may not ever be achieved, Cutler has a seemingly limitless ceiling. If the Bears were ever going to be able to surprise and compete in the NFC North this season, a drastically improved Cutler was always going to be a major reason why.

Anything is possible, but in a season that honestly felt a little doomed from the start, is essentially hopeless if Cutler misses significant time after this 0-2 start.

Next: Five Bears Who Will Reach Pro Bowl

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