NFL Injuries: Jay Cutler's Concussion Beginning of End to Bears' Promising Year

Richard LangfordCorrespondent INovember 12, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass against the Houston Texans during the game at Soldier Field on November 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears entered Sunday night's showdown against the Houston Texans with rising Super Bowl hopes. They left with a sinking reality that all their hard work could slip away in a moment. 

The Bears lost the dank game and their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, to a concussion. 

The concussion has put Cutler's playing status for next week's key game against the 49ers in doubt. ESPN's Kevin Seifert tweeted out this update on Cutler.

Lovie Smith said he doesn't know if Jay Cutler (concussion) will play on MNF vs. 49ers. #Bears

— Kevin Seifert (@espn_nfcnblog) November 12, 2012

Now, taken on its own, this injury is not the end of the world for the Bears. If Cutler does miss next week, it is reasonable to assume he would be able to return for the next game, and this is the reason the Bears went out and got a competent backup in Jason Campbell.

However, as CBS' Gene Chamberlain points out, this is Cutler's third concussion as a pro, and there is at least one report stating he had three in college. As we've learned, people become increasingly susceptible to this injury with each concussion. 

And with the Bears' less-than-dominant pass-blocking, Cutler is always just one snap away from receiving another, and if he did suffer another in such a short time span, it would be a serious problem for his ability to get back on the field this season. 

Obviously, if Cutler misses significant time, it will derail the Bears' title hopes. Campbell may be a competent backup, but this offense was built around Cutler's arm, and it would be foolish to predict any team to make a Super Bowl run with a backup. 

However, this team has more working against them than Cutler potentially missing major time. Chicago has a daunting schedule to finish up the season. 

They have two games with the Vikings, will host the Seahawks and Packers and then end the season with two straight road games against the Cardinals and Lions. This was going to be a daunting task for them regardless of their injury situation. 

Now, they will embark on their tough finish with their QB on the shelf. This is going to disrupt the Bears' rhythm and consequently their confidence—all while facing little margin for error in their games or the standings. 

The Bears own the NFC's second-best record, but just two games separate them from the No. 1 seed to the No. 8, and just two games separate them from first in the NFC North and third place. 

If the Bears stumble while dealing with Cutler's injury, they will quickly find themselves in a hole, and with their schedule it will be a tough hole for them to climb out of.