Jim McMahon critical of Bears

Former quarterback Jim McMahon said if the Chicago Bears had handled news of Jay Cutler's injured knee better, the controversy and criticism that followed might have been avoided.

Cutler sustained the injury -- later ruled a Grade II MCL sprain -- in the second quarter of the Bears' 21-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC title game.

"I think they just handled it poorly," McMahon said Monday on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio. "I never saw him get hurt. I saw him leave early right before halftime. I think somebody should have come out and said, 'Hey, he hurt his knee. He might go, he might not.' But nobody said anything and I think he played one series and he was gone."

Cutler played the first series of the third quarter, then was replaced by backup Todd Collins and eventually Caleb Hanie.

At last month's owners meetings, Bears coach Lovie Smith defended the team's handling of the Cutler news.

"Now, what were we supposed to do, [say] 'Hey guys, we're behind 14-0 or whatever, trying to win the biggest game in the history of our franchise, let's worry about what everybody is thinking about with our quarterback,' " Smith said. "That's the last thing we're doing."

Cutler took criticism from fans and fellow players, some of whom used social media to question his toughness for not returning to the game.

"I think if they handled it better, people would have realized what was going on," said McMahon, who played seven seasons for the Bears and led them to a victory in Super Bowl XX. "All they had to do was mention he had a little tweak in his knee or something and it wouldn't have gotten blown out like it did."