Marc Trestman’s decision to stick with Cutler questionable

Marc Trestman’s decision to stick with Cutler questionable
Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune

When Phil Emery introduced new head coach Marc Trestman, both men spent significant time talking about how the team was going to operate on a transparent nature with fans and the media, and that they would be truthful at all times unless that truth somehow jeopardized team planning.

And to this point, they have lived up to that motto. Today, however, the “truth” seems like more of an attempt at spin doctoring as opposed to full transparency. To me, Trestman’s claim that Cutler’s groin wasn’t bothering him in the loss to the Lions on Sunday just doesn’t pass the sniff test.

The Bears officially say that Cutler twisted his ankle, which may well be true. But it seemed obvious that Cutler was holding his groin throughout the game, especially late in the second quarter and throughout the entire second half.

According to Trestman, “there was never a sense at all that he was impeded by his groin.”

For Trestman to say he wasn’t aware of a groin problem sounds like a weak attempt to avoid fan and media backlash for not removing Cutler until the final series, though it seemed apparent to almost everyone that a healthy Josh McCown was the better option.

Even if starting Cutler didn’t cause further aggravation of his groin injury, it became apparent as the game wore on that a QB change was needed, and yet Trestman wouldn’t budge.

Yet Trestman continued to leave the decision in the hands of his QB, and what do you think Cutler was going to say? He is intently aware of the reputation he has throughout the league, and as unfair as that reputation may be, he will do almost anything to stay in the game and prove what a tough guy he is.

But that toughness morphed into selfishness on Sunday. It wasn’t until the final series that Cutler finally said enough is enough and McCown entered the game. But it was too late, as McCown’s TD drive was just not enough, and the Bears lost on a failed two point conversion.

Whether Cutler was protecting his reputation, concerned about McCown taking his job, or even if he truly felt that he could go on, that decision should not have been left up to him. Players are competitors and coaches are expected to be the prudent ones.

And the prudent thing would have been to start McCown, or at the very least, put him into the game when it became obvious that Cutler was being limited by his assorted injuries, groin or not.

“Jay 80 percent is better than a lot of guys at 100 percent in the NFL,” Brandon Marshall said. That may be true, but was he even operating at 80% late in the game? Plus, most teams don’t have a guy like McCown, who has proven he is a more than capable starter.

Cutler was outstanding early in the game, and I was eating crow, as my suggestion that the Bears should have started McCown was looking silly. But as the game went on, it became apparent that Cutler was hurting the team being out there, and yet Trestman never forced the issue.

Being a head coach in the NFL is not a popularity contest, and Trestman isn’t here to be anyone’s best friend. He is paid to make the tough decisions and should have stepped in and told Jay that he appreciated his toughness and all he did to get ready but that it was time for McCown.

“I just didn't feel like I could make some of the throws I wanted to make, I couldn't move around, couldn't be mobile as the game went on. It just kind of limited us.”

Those were Cutler’s own words, yet Trestman apparently thought otherwise.

Brandon Marshall said Cutler wasn’t right from the second series of the game.

Yet Trestman apparently thought otherwise.

Anyone who watched the game, and I am assuming Trestman was indeed watching, could tell Cutler was hurting — ankle, groin, giant lump on his left hand. But even if you didn’t see that, just look at the numbers.

In the first half Cutler was 12 of 18 for 148 yards and a touchdown. But in the second half, he was just nine of 22 for 102 yards. He finished the game with a passer rating of 69.8.

“I didn't want to take him out unless he felt he couldn't do the job,” Trestman said. “I thought it was a very courageous performance throughout.”

Look, it’s not as if Caleb Hanie is the backup, there was simply no good reason that I can think of to hesitate to put in a healthy McCown when it became obvious that Cutler was limited.

So the decision to continue playing may have indeed ben “courageous” on Cutler’s part, but it was stupid on Trestman’s part. And covering things up won’t help his credibility at all.

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