Common sense suggested that Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler wouldn't play Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers, eight days after suffering a concussion on a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit, his second concussion in three years and his third since entering the NFL in 2006.
In this case, at least, common sense aligned with reality.
The Bears ruled Cutler out of the game Friday rather than stringing along an inevitable conclusion, announcing that backup Jason Campbell would make the start. Although we're not privy to the details and might never be, there is every reason to be relieved that neither Cutler nor the Bears were intent on rushing back for this game.
When you look ahead, Monday night's affair isn't a bad one for the Bears to play without their starting quarterback. The 49ers are a tough matchup with or without Cutler, and the Bears' priority in the second half of the season should be the four NFC North opponents they will play among their final six games. Those matchups, not so much the 49ers game, will determine whether the Bears win the division.
At the same time, I highly doubt the Bears are holding back Cutler for that reason. If he had been cleared medically to practice this week, I'm sure the Bears would have played him. But there is much less leeway in terms of evaluating post-concussion symptoms than there used to be in the NFL. Clearly, Cutler isn't ready to play based on the league's current protocol.
The Bears are 1-6 in the past seven games Cutler either has missed or hasn't finished because of injury. But that's why general manager Phil Emery spent $3.5 million to sign Campbell this offseason. Campbell is a seasoned veteran with a history of playing within the system, as a career total of 74 touchdown passes and 50 interceptions would suggest. I'll have more on Campbell in the Final Word post Friday afternoon.