White's NFL regular-season debut did not go as the Bears had planned. The tipping point on Sunday occurred when White, limited in practice with a hamstring injury, and Cutler did not communicate on a critical third-quarter interception -- a sequence that altered the game and allowed the Houston Texans to rally for a 23-14 victory.
The day began on a high note for the Bears, who after grabbing an unexpected lead at halftime, had Houston on its heels.
But disaster struck to open the third quarter, when Cutler fired a pass to the sideline, deep in Chicago territory, to seemingly no one in particular that Houston's Andre Hal picked off.
Cutler expected White, who had stopped his route and sat just inside the numbers, to break off and head to the sidelines. But White stayed put and essentially stopped the route.
Following the interception, Cutler, who has praised White at every turn, forcefully gestured to White that he wanted him to keep running. The scene never got ugly, but the disconnect between the two was obvious.
The Bears, and White, never recovered. White, who earlier in the game failed to make a third-down play on a catchable ball, was not targeted by Cutler again until the final drive.
"I’ll talk to Kev about it,” Cutler said after the game. “It was his first game out there. But it left my hand, it’s my responsibility, so it is what it is.”
White simply said he "needed to watch the tape" to determine what happened.
That is a stark contrast to the day Cutler had with Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery's long-term future in Chicago beyond 2016 is up for debate, but for the time being, Jeffery is the equalizer on the Bears’ offense.
The Texans' secondary, which shadows DeAndre Hopkins every day in practice, had no answers for Jeffery, who set a career high with 105 receiving yards in the first half.
Cutler’s best course of action was to simply throw the ball up to Jeffery and let him use his size to gain separation. At 6-foot-3, Jeffery is not the fastest player on the field, but he has the strongest hands on the team. Jeffery’s 29-yard circus reception in the first quarter showed off his sizeable catch radius.
Even veteran Eddie Royal made a sizable impact.
But for Chicago’s offense to truly thrive, Cutler needs to trust all his receivers.
White is here to stay. The former seventh overall pick is the Bears’ future. He is supposed to be a centerpiece moving forward to justify the draft selection.
Cutler, 33, played fairly well behind poor protection on Sunday, but the guaranteed portion of his contract expires after the season.
If push comes to shove, it’s not a stretch to think the Bears will support White, even though Cutler is the quarterback. That is why Cutler and White’s relationship is of the highest importance.
Cutler seemed to agree.
"We need him,” Cutler said. “He’s going to be fine. We’re not worried about him.”
The Bears proved on Sunday they can compete with a playoff-caliber team. But the margin of error is small in the NFL, especially on the road, and the Bears are not good enough yet to overcome a disastrous turnover. The team simply wore down in the second half.
Cutler and White need to fix their problems. There is too much on the line for that not to happen.