Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler Is out 6-8 Weeks: Is Their Season Over?

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IINovember 21, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 20: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears lays on the field after losing his helmet during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field on November 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Chargers 31-20. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is out six to eight weeks with an injured thumb on his throwing hand, and now I question if it's even worth watching them the rest of the season.

Can they realistically win with Caleb Hanie behind center?

In Chicago for practically forever, the fans always chanted for the backup quarterback. That's because the starter was usually pathetic. I could go down the list for you, but I don't think you want me to go there. Just take my word for it.

That has not been the case since Cutler arrived, even though he has disappointed at times. At least with him, you always thought you had a chance going into a game. What chance do they have now?

The funny thing is, the Bears actually looked like they could accomplish something this year. They're 7-3 with five consecutive wins, but that now looks meaningless.

They weren't going to catch the juggernaut in Green Bay, but the playoffs were almost assured with the way they have played lately.

Last year they made the NFC Championship Game with an incredible string of good luck attached.

I commented on my radio show Sunday morning that I think the Bears are better this year than last season, but that they might not advance as far in the playoffs.

That was before the shocking news of Cutler's injury that occurred while he tried to make a tackle after throwing an interception in the fourth quarter.

People love to criticize Cutler, and I have done that myself. But it's only because I think he can be so much better than he's been, not because I don't think he's good.

You can blame the offensive line, a lack of skilled receivers, offensive coordinator Mike Martz or the perpetual pout on his face, but you can't say he isn't the best quarterback the Bears have had in your lifetime. In mine, the only one who could compare was Jim McMahon, but he was injury prone. 

That's why I found it comical last year in the playoff game against Green Bay when Cutler sat out in the second half and was ripped by everyone from the media to players for being soft.

Cutler is anything but soft. In fact, until Sunday, he seemed indestructible with all of the hits he has taken since coming to the Bears. He was like a Timex; he would take a beating and keep on ticking.

Isn't it ironic he gets injured just when it seems like the offense is starting to come together?

Martz finally made adjustments to allow Cutler to play to his strengths instead of staying with the seven-step drop and making him a sitting duck in the pocket.

Without him, opponents can focus on stopping running back Matt Forte, because they're not going to be worried about Hanie beating them.

For all the Hanie backers who were excited with his performance in the championship game last year when Cutler went down, he's not a starting quarterback in this league, and he's certainly no Cutler. The best the Bears can hope for is for him to manage the game.

They could still get by and make the playoffs because the rest of their schedule is not that difficult, but can you realistically say they have a chance without Cutler in the lineup?

He could be back in time for the playoffs, but what kind of shape will he be in? How sharp will he be after missing all of that time? Will his timing with his receivers be there?

These are all questions that will be answered if the Bears make the playoffs and he's able to play.

Getting back to the question I asked at the beginning: are the Bears worth watching now with him on the sidelines?

I've watched them for too many years to count, and I'm sure I'll continue to even after this dramatic turn of events.

I just don't think I'll enjoy it as much.