The Chicago Bears' management and ownership are about to find out if Jay Cutler is worth signing to an extension. Cutler is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, but his torn groin will have him out at least four weeks, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com.
It was just a little over a half of football, but Josh McCown looked solid in relief of Cutler on Sunday against the Washington Redskins. The Bears lost the game 45-41, but aside from taking a head-scratching sack on the final play, McCown didn't do much wrong. That final gaffe in all likelihood didn’t cost the Bears the game.
McCown completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. He made quick decisions and rallied his team in adversity on a few occasions. He doesn’t possess the same physical skills Cutler does, but in some ways that may actually work to his benefit.
McCown doesn’t have a rocket arm and he knows it. You won’t catch him trying to fit ill-advised passes into impossibly tight windows. He’ll run Marc Trestman’s offense and utilize the weapons he has. For once in Chicago, the skill positions is an esteemed group.
Is McCown a better player than Cutler? No.
Cutler can make plays down the field McCown can't, and he's a slightly better athlete. He has really only had one bad game this season. He didn’t perform well against the Detroit Lions in Week 4. Aside from that, he’s been solid in his own right.
The defense, which ranks 24th against the run and 27th against the pass, is what's keeping the Bears from being one of the top eight teams in the NFL.
Because of this deficiency, the Bears aren’t a legitimate contender. Thus, management probably won’t sweat having their No. 1 quarterback sit for four weeks-plus while the coaching staff monitors how productive McCown can be in the role.
Is McCown a legit long-term replacement? Of course not, but if the Bears’ offense continues to put points on the board, it would imply Cutler could be expendable. The Bears may be able to pick up a much cheaper option at quarterback and elect to either let Cutler walk, or at the very least get him to return for less money.
The next four to six weeks will tell a lot about just how much the Bears need Cutler moving forward.
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