Josh McCown has not unseated Jay Cutler

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Down the dark hallways at Halas Hall, inside the meeting rooms, locker room and in the coaches’ offices, the conversation regarding quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Josh McCown doesn’t come close to the substance of what’s been said recently outside in the general public.

McCown certainly deserves credit for doing his job: filling in masterfully when the starting quarterback couldn’t go. But all the starting quarterback talk regarding McCown needs to stop.

He hasn’t unseated Cutler.

Everyone in the organization continues to make that clear, with Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman reiterating as much Monday; a day after McCown engineered a 23-20 overtime win against Baltimore Ravens on a freezing quagmire.

“Jay is the quarterback of our football team, and Josh is our backup quarterback,” Trestman said. “The three of us all know that. That hasn’t changed, and it’s not gonna change.”

It shouldn’t change, either, and Trestman -- minutes after declaring Cutler out for Sunday’s contest at St. Louis -- made the right move by tackling any potential quarterback controversy before it could spin its way further out into the public and the airwaves.

McCown had already attempted to do the same on multiple occasions.

“I have said this over and over again: I’m the backup quarterback on this team,” he said Sunday after finishing with a passer rating of 92.9, in addition to completing 2 of 3 for 57 yards during the game-winning drive in overtime. “The way I serve my team is to play when the starter is not healthy. Jay is our starting quarterback. There is no doubt about that. Hopefully whenever Jay is healthy, we are still in position to get everything we want to get accomplished and done when he takes back over.”

Until that can take place, it’s obviously McCown’s job to keep the Bears in contention. And he’s done that remarkably well, completing 60.4 percent of his passes for five touchdowns, and no interceptions with a passer rating of 100.0.

Basically, McCown is a luxury the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers would like to have right now. He’s a luxury the Bears had right under their noses in 2011 when they got off to a 7-3 start, only to watch Caleb Hanie and their playoff hopes go down in flames down the stretch once Cutler was forced to miss time because of a broken thumb.

But as good as McCown has been, he hasn’t ascended to the level of starter for the Chicago Bears.

Cutler’s base salary of $8.47 million for 2013 registers as more than 10 times the pay of McCown, who is to earn $840,000 this season. While it shouldn’t happen, the salaries of the players often play a role in the decisions made. But in a situation like this, it’s simple. A healthy Cutler provides Chicago the best chance to win football games.

“We know who our starting quarterback is,” center Roberto Garza said. “Even Josh said it. Jay is the starting quarterback for this team. He’s the leader of this team. Josh is our backup. He’s playing really good football right now. There’s no question about that. But Jay remains our starter.”

Everybody got it?