Jay Cutler threw for only 150 yards, and he completed just over 50 percent of his passes on Monday night, but it was his best game as a Chicago Bear.
We already know Cutler can throw it through a wall, and we already know he's one of the top 10 QBs in the league in regard to mobility. The questions about Cutler have been about his poise, toughness, body language and overall leadership.
The way he conducted himself against the Detroit Lions contradicted all of those concerns.
The Highlights of Cutler's Night
Cutler threw only one touchdown pass, but he didn't turn the ball over either. He didn't attempt to force the ball in to Brandon Marshall, thus he didn't put his team in a hole with interceptions. He played smart, and made good decisions with the ball—even when he was under pressure.
The Bears defense and running game is so good, Cutler doesn't have to force the issue. The opportunities will come.
Despite what Bishop Marshall (AKA Brandon Marshall) says, the Ndamukong Suh hit on Cutler was legal. It was nasty, but it was legal. Per the Chicago Sun-Times, Marshall called Suh's hit on Cutler a "wrestling move." Then again, he also appeared on ESPN First Take and tried to lecture Stephen A. Smith on being a good Christian.
Brandon is trying to wear too many hats.
In all honesty, I thought it was going to result in a season-ending shoulder or rib injury for Cutler. As he lie on the ground, I thought to myself: "at least Jason Campbell is a better option than Caleb Hanie."
However, Cutler only spent one play out on the sidelines before he returned. He came out in the second half—clearly less than 100 percent—but he came out.
This was an answer to all the critics that questioned Cutler's toughness for sitting out the second half of the Bears' playoff game against the Green Bay Packers in 2011. (Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kerry Rhodes of the Arizona Cardinals are quoted in the linked Sports Illustrated article by Jim Trotter)
The truth about his readiness to compete in that game may never be known, but on Monday night Cutler was all in.
Body Language? Check
Cutler was seen smiling, laughing and productively communicating on the sidelines and on the field throughout the game. He didn't once lose it on an offensive lineman. Even after Gabe Carimi, Chilo Rachal, Roberto Garza and Lance Louis committed silly penalties, Cutler kept his cool.
He even grabbed Rachal by the face-mask endearingly to calm him down, and may have saved him from a personal foul penalty.
It appears Cutler found a balance between hating to lose and acting like jerk, and hating to lose and keeping his cool.
I will say, it's much easier to behave this way when you're team is pretty much in control of the game from the start. Though the final score was 13-7, the Bears' defense didn't really allow the Lions to get into a rhythm that put the game in serious doubt.
Cutler shined in this aspect of leadership, but the truest test will come when the Bears get off to a tough start, or have to come from behind.
Will Cutler stay loose, poised and positive then?
All of these things add up to a awesome display of leadership from Cutler. He has said there is "zero chance" he'll miss the Bears next game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, per Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune. That further drives home the image of toughness for fans and teammates.
With the support he's getting from his defense, run game and No. 1 receiver, the Bears are in a great position.
In order for the team to maximize on this opportunity, Cutler must continue to lead.
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