Maybe because in the Jay Cutler era the Bears have typically ranged from mediocre-bad to mediocre-good, spots on a relatively short continuum that usually requires the bulk of the season to pinpoint, this team gets treated as potentially relevant for far longer than it should. Let’s not fall for it again this year. We all watched Chicago’s 29-14 home loss to Philadelphia. My limited brainspace needs to go to teams that matter, and this is not one of them.
There were boos and there were empty seats, somewhat paradoxically increasing amounts of both as the game went on. “Everyone is a little taken aback by what happened during that game,” Jay Cutler said, but maybe no one should be. The defense made another inexperienced QB, rookie Carson Wentz, look damn good, and then it saw its only decent pass rusher, second-year nose tackle Eddie Goldman, taken off on a cart. The offense showed for a second week in a row that it doesn’t have much to recommend it beyond long lobs to Alshon Jeffery, and for the second week in a row, when opposing defenses take that out of play, the Bears look lost. And then there’s Cutler.
Cutler injured his right thumb early in the game, and it affected his play. Things really fell apart in the third quarter, when on the first drive Cutler couldn’t hold on to the ball while being sacked by Destiny Vaeao:
Then 10 minutes later, Cutler gave up an awful interception to Nigel Bradham:
Cutler said after the game his thumb injury meant “I couldn’t really grip the football,” and on that INT he “couldn’t get as much on it as I wanted to, to put it over the top of that ‘backer.”
Cutler walked off the field and down the tunnel, but not before being confronted by defensive captain Pernell McPhee, currently on the PUP list. Among the messages conveyed: “Wake the fuck up.”
It was Brian Hoyer’s game after that, and a Brian Hoyer-quarterbacked Bears would finally have the appropriate level of give-a-shit-aboutness, which is to say, very little at all.
Cutler’s thumb was in a cast after the game, and he said he was “concerned,” and will undergo tests today to see just how badly it’s messed up. He certainly remembers 2011, when the Bears were 7-3 before he broke his thumb and went out for the season, and Chicago promptly lost five in a row and fell out of playoff contention. At least this time there is nothing so immediate at stake. And, you know, silver linings and all that, but this is a team that should be playing for draft position anyway. If Cutler misses time, the Bears are that much closer to a high draft pick, perhaps to select a much-needed quarterback of the future. There’s a universe in which that interception was the last snap Cutler ever plays as a Bear, and while his ultimate legacy in Chicago will be a complicated one, his opportunity to significantly change it on the field has probably passed. These are the Bears now, solidly among the ranks of the NFL’s bad, hopeless teams. The only thing left for fans to root for is for them to be good enough to play spoiler.