Bears lose Jay Cutler for at least a month due to groin injury
Cutler was injured while being slammed to the ground on a sack by Washington Redskins linebacker Chris Baker in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. He hobbled off the field, with the team’s medical staff following him to the locker room. Although Cutler was initially ruled questionable to return in the game, he did not step back on the field Sunday.
First-year Bears coach Marc Trestman said Cutler felt something “pop” on the play he was injured, but the coach also confirmed that Cutler will not require surgery. With that Trestman remains optimistic about Cutler’s ability to return for the Bears before the end of the season, given his short recovery period of at least four weeks.
"I'm only confident by what [the doctors] told me. This is a minimum of four weeks, and then he'll be evaluated week to week,” Trestman said. “But based on the history – I talked to the doctors this morning – four weeks is a reasonable start, and then it would be week to week.”
Trestman added that even though Cutler was “disappointed” he got injured, the quarterback is still "in a good frame of mind” after receiving the diagnosis.
Cutler was thriving Trestman’s system, having completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 1,658 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions through the first seven games, while leading the Bears to a 4-3 start this season. He hasn’t missed a game since last November, when a concussion forced him out of the Week 11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Historically, the Bears haven’t done so well in Cutler’s absence, as evidenced by their collapse from 7-3 to an 8-8 record in the 2011 season. Cutler missed the final six games of the season with a broken thumb.
“You lose a leader like Jay, a leader like Lance, it’s a blow to your team,” said Josh McCown, who played in relief of Cutler on Sunday and will now take over the starting duties in wake of the injury. “Jay is a heck of a player. He was playing at a really good level, a really high level. Especially in this league where the quarterback drives the ship, I don’t know if you’re ever ready to handle losing your starting quarterback.”
Although the Bears have a Week 8 bye, Cutler's injury still comes at an inopportune time for the team. The Bears travel to face their NFC North rival the Green Bay Packers (4-2) following the off week. The subsequent week, the Bears have another important divisional game against the Detroit Lions (4-3). They will have to play some inspired football if the team has any hopes to playoffs contention by the time Cutler returns. McCown played well while filling-in for Cutler during Sunday’s 45-41 loss to the Redskins. The 34-year-old McCown completed 14-of-20 passes for 204 yards and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett in the fourth-quarter of Sunday’s game. Now, McCown will have some additional practice in the bye week to get acclimated to taking over the reins of the Bears’ offense.
“Obviously, it’s an uphill battle,” McCown said. “But I think the structure is in place and the emphasis has been put on individuals to their job and do their part.”
“If we continue to get that and we felt like we got that [Sunday], it allows the quarterback to step in there,” McCown added, “whether it’s Jay or myself and function and play, because guys are going to be coached to be where they’re supposed to be and do what they’re supposed to do.”
The Bears also signed quarterback Jordan Palmer on Monday to back up McCown.