Who Gets The Call?


Stick with backup one more week

Greenberg By Jon Greenberg

Josh McCown's season debut as the Bears' starting quarterback went so well, I think he deserves an encore.

Hey, it's not every day the Chicago Bears win at Green Bay. Apparently, McCown has the McMagic.

This week's home game against the Detroit Lions could very well decide the Bears' playoff hopes. It's currently a three-way tie atop the NFC North with Detroit having a win against the Bears in their pocket.

So, common sense would say you start Jay Cutler as soon as he's cleared.

But I think the Bears should roll with McCown for one more week. The idea of Cutler being bullied by the Lions' defense after rushing back from a groin tear suffered three weeks prior is a little risky. As long as Cutler is ready to come back, that's the important thing.

McCown, one of the most respected players on the Bears, definitely proved that he can operate the Bears' offense efficiently -- certainly better than Cutler has in any of his three trips to Green Bay. His proficiency with the offense, not to mention the talent around him, gives the Bears a little leeway in bringing No. 6 back. If Green Bay had won that game, as everyone besides Mike Ditka predicted, and McCown was even mediocre, then you definitely have to roll the dice with Cutler.

But the Bears won.

Now if Cutler could play safety, like he did in Heritage Hills High School, well, that's a different story.

While few media types gave the Bears much of a chance in Lambeau Field, it wasn't because of McCown. The defense was slightly better than advertised, if only because the defensive line finally showed up. A strong pass rush helped negate the hideous safety play and the run fit mistakes across the board.

If the Bears can duplicate this formula, pass rush and passer patience, on short rest against the rowdy, but hardly unbeatable Lions, they won't need Cutler this week to win.

Who would've thought I'd ever write that?

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com

Let Cutler play if he thinks he's ready

Dickerson By Jeff Dickerson

My experience covering the NFL leads me to believe that if Jay Cutler tells the Chicago Bears that he's ready to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions, then Cutler will be out there slinging the football around Soldier Field.

What star players want, star players usually get.

Cutler sounds determined to return from a torn groin muscle sooner than the club's four-week timetable, and although the standard line is that NFL teams have the final say when it comes to medically clearing a player, Cutler likely has enough clout to make the determination himself.

Obviously, if Cutler goes out and re-injures the groin at practice or suffers some kind of setback, the Bears will no doubt err on the side of caution and rest the quarterback for another week.

But where there is smoke there is generally fire.

Brandon Marshall told ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy Show" last week that Cutler's worse-case scenario called for the quarterback to miss the Green Bay Packers game -- which he did -- and return to face the Lions on Nov. 10.

When asked about Marshall's comments, Bears head coach Marc Trestman spoke at length about the organization's increased optimism that Cutler will beat the original timeline, although he stopped short of confirming Marshall's proclamation.

Then ESPN's Chris Mortenson reported on Monday that Cutler is indeed scheduled to start on Sunday.

Sorry, but those are too many coincidences to ignore.

In a contract year, Cutler understands the importance of getting back on the field in a timely fashion, and he also sees the backup, Josh McCown, lighting it up over the past six quarters.

Cutler has all the motivation in the world to return this weekend.

If his body cooperates over the next couple of days, I envision No. 6 leading the offense versus the Lions at Soldier Field.

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.


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