Posted December 12, 2013

Will the Bears rue Marc Trestman’s call to stay the course with Jay Cutler?

Chicago Bears, NFC North
Josh McCown (left) has tossed eight touchdowns and just one interception playing in place of Jay Cutler the last three games.

Josh McCown (left) has thrown eight touchdowns and one interception playing in place of Jay Cutler the last three games. (George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

There is a vocal group among baseball analysts who believe that the use of a closer is a fabricated, unnecessary strategy. There are inherent flaws, they argue, in using the same pitcher to attempt to finish games regardless of situation.

And, in essence, that’s what Marc Trestman is doing by going back to Jay Cutler for Week 15. Cutler was the Bears’ starting quarterback prior to getting hurt, players and coaches said they still considered Cutler the starter even when he was out of the lineup, and now he is back in the No. 1 role.

Trestman has deemed Cutler his closer, regardless of what stats and possibly even common sense tells him.

Over his past three starts, Josh McCown has completed nearly 73 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and one interception. Those numbers challenge the best stretches of Cutler’s career — Weeks 1 through 3 as Denver’s starter in 2008, Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2010 season when the Bears were buried in the playoff race.

Cutler has yet to match that level of success under Trestman in 2013. The closest he came was over Weeks 5 and 6: 69.5 percent completion rate, four touchdowns, no interceptions. He preceded that showing by throwing three INTs in a loss to Detroit and followed it up by getting hurt.

The upside with Cutler, at least long term, is higher than with the 34-year-old McCown. And the Bears face a critical decision in the coming months regarding how to handle Cutler’s expiring contract — a decision that may be made much harder or much easier, depending on how he plays to close this regular season. (McCown will also be a free agent.)

For the 2014 season and beyond, figuring out what they have in Cutler within the confines of Trestman’s offense may be priority No. 1. From that perspective, it’s hard to knock the decision to roll back to Cutler this week.

Is it worth sacrificing a division title run to solve those mysteries?

Cutler may step in and light up the scoreboard over the next three weeks. Chicago’s schedule — at Cleveland, at Philadelphia, vs. Green Bay — definitely sets up well for the offense, and thus for Cutler. The Eagles have the league’s second-worst pass defense by yardage, while Cleveland has been a solid but unspectacular group and Green Bay allowed 442 yards in an earlier loss to the Bears.

Of course, McCown was the quarterback in that matchup with the Packers. He completed 22-of-41 attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns to win in Lambeau Field, something Cutler has not done. (McCown did have the benefit of facing an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team.)

McCown also was at the helm in the closing moments of a Week 10 loss to Detroit, after a hobbled Cutler suffered through three-plus trying quarters. Had McCown started that game, or simply entered it earlier, the Bears might be all alone atop the NFC North at 8-5.

Trestman rode it out for the majority of that afternoon with Cutler, however, despite plenty of evidence that the eight-year vet was not 100 percent. And now, he’ll hand the keys back over to Cutler, after a month out of the lineup and with three must-win games approaching.

It’s far too early in his tenure to dub this decision a legacy-maker for Trestman. What happens this offseason with Cutler, McCown and the team’s quarterback position will go much further in determining how Trestman is later remembered in Chicago.

This season, though, may hinge on Trestman’s call to stick with Cutler over McCown. Quite frankly, the latter has been better consistently when given the chance.

But Trestman has decided to live and die with his closer.

21 comments
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

A terrible mistake. McCown will now leave as a free agent. The Bears will be stuck with Cry Baby Jay and his demands for $20 million per season. I predict Trestman is fired within a year.

Bankerdanny
Bankerdanny

No. He won't rue it because, McCown or Cutler, if the Bears make the playoffs the team will be one and done because the defense still sucks.


The Bears are better served to have Cutler play out the rest of the season to have more data to use while deciding if they will resign him or not.

Mediadrivil13
Mediadrivil13

All Trestman has done throughout his entire career is make QB's better. 

radicalace11
radicalace11

Yes Trestman is a moron getting the bears to be a top nfl offense with two rookie lineman and making it possible for a journeyman backup to have significant success. All this even when the defense is unable to get off the field half the time. Seriously? Offensively, bears fans gotta trustman

rrusrjr2
rrusrjr2

Trestman no genius. Bad calls every week, on offense. Ignores the worst defense in the NFL; how is that head coach material? Trestman no more than an offensive coordinator, no matter how you read the phrase, offensive coordinator. Picking Cutler over hottest QB in the NFL, McCown, had better work for both Cutler and Trestman. A heavy breeze might injure the Man of Glass, Cutler.

Mediadrivil13
Mediadrivil13

The offense has now had most of the season to evolve into the trestman system. With the horses the bears have surrounded the quarterback with they are successful. To quote Coach Ditka,” Go Bears!”

_AV8R
_AV8R

No controversy, just stupidity. I stopped thinking Cutler was the answer when the Broncos gave up on him. Plus, how the hell does he keep concentrated with all that neck twitching he does. He needs a shrink.

jordanN
jordanN

Much ado about nothing. Must be nice to be a sports writer, get paid to write worthless drivel like this.

drmuon
drmuon

E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!  Good luck Cutler.

amolad
amolad

The only people who think Cutler shouldn't be the Bears QB are the ones who have childish minds and can't think in the long term.

When Cutler has a QB rating of over 100, the Bears are 16-2. 

McCown has done great, but your grandmother could throw four touchdown passes against the Cowboys.

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

I guess if you are a Bears fan this could be considered a controversy. However, the Bears aren't a legitimate Super Bowl contender so no matter who is taking the snaps for the rest of the season/post season, the end result will be the same. They don't have the roster to win it all, period. 

tmadz
tmadz

There is no proof of the hot hand theory. Trestman always said that Cutler would be the QB when he came back. McCown was out of football and teaching HS when the Bears signed him. They were honest with him at the start and nothing changed. Why do these people think there is a controversy? I heard someone bring up that this exact situation happened before. Todd Collins backed up Jason Campbell and started the last 4 games of the season. He ended up going 4-0 and had a passer rating of 106. He got a 3yr  $9mil contract and backed up for 2 more years. One of the teams he beat? The Chicago Bears, who then signed him off the street in 2010 and was a complete failure. So don't overestimate a QB who had a good showing. There's a reason these guys were longtime backups and out of the NFL. Stop being stupid.

George
George

Big mistake.  McCown was hot and on a roll.  Cutler is still recovering, rusty .. and ... well - cutler.


champdailey24
champdailey24

The Bears are on the upswing.

Trestman is an excellent  head coach.

Mag533
Mag533

You have a QB throwing at 73% and you bench him?  The dumb thing is the org is paying this dumb coach the millions.

swidt
swidt

Trestman already blew one game by bringing Cutler back to soon, and now he's going to make the same mistake twice.

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

@_AV8R The Broncos did not give up on Cutler... teen wonder Josh McDumniels did. McDumniels was also the genius who drafted Tim LOL Tebow with a first round pick.

You are the one who needs a shrink.

timmy s
timmy s

@amolad I like that even you yourself said that "when Cutler has a QB rating of over 100" the bears win. Really?!? That's like saying, when we score more points we win. The stats speak for themselves. McCown is the hot hand with a better completion percentage, yards per throw, yards per game, TD/INT ratio and overall sensibility with no pouting. 


And for your remark about the Cowboys, the NFL voted him offensive player of the week for our division. They have WAY more credibility in my book than you do. 


Although you are pretty offensive yourself. :)

swidt
swidt

@amolad Yes, anyone who disagrees with you is clearly childish and mentally deficient.  McCown has played better than Cutler all season, and Cutler just recovered from back-to-back injuries well enough to practice as of THURSDAY.  Neither is a good long term solution as Cutler is not worth what it will cost the Bears to re-sign him and has probably played his best football (he's not getting better).  McCown is too old to keep around for long, but gives the Bears the better chance to win right now.  (Did you also think Cutler should be starter in the first Detroit game?  -when did you finally accept you were wrong, before or after Trestman?)