Jay Cutler suffered a concussion in 2010, against the the New York Giants, on a night many in attendance would prefer to forget. (I'm not sure Cutler had a choice but to forget.) I was there and on that cold, awful night in New Jersey I never saw Cutler take a hit as violently direct to the head as the hit he took from Tim Dobbins of the Houston Texans Sunday night.
The Bears rested Cutler the week following the Giants debacle against the Carolina Panthers and they should do the same Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. That decision, made to protect the quarterback's bruised brain, does not have to be a negative one. While no one will make the argument Jason Campbell gives the Bears a better chance to win, an argument can be made that starting Campbell gives the Bears an opportunity to become a better team.
- It will force the offensive coordinator to finally embrace the team's offensive strength: the run game. When Cutler went down in 2010, the Bears ran the ball 40 times with Forte and Chester Taylor for over 200 yards. They threw sixteen passes with Todd Collins and won the game 23-6. This was all under the run-averse Mike Martz! Without Cutler on Monday night I imagine Mike Tice will allow his offensive line to do what they do best: run block for sixty minutes.
- It will force Tice to make a call and stick with it. I'm assuming Campbell will not have the same power to audible at the line of scrimmage.
- It strengthens the position of quarterback. The Bears offensive line didn't suddenly get better at pass protection Sunday night and it is not a long shot to believe this team could lose Cutler in big spot in December or January. Getting Jason Campbell four quarters with this line, with these receivers, against a quality defensive opponent, will help keep the Bears from being one snap away from disaster down the stretch. (Clark Judge wrote an excellent piece on Campbell Monday. You can read it by CLICKING HERE.)
- It might give the quarterback some perspective and I think he needs it. I've never played quarterback in the NFL. I've never called plays for an organized football game of adults. But I think Jay Cutler can use a game off, a game to watch the flow of play, a game to follow the trajectory of the play-calling. I think it might be beneficial for him to see a quarterback throwing the football away, checking down to what the defense is allowing, sliding to avoid massive contact. And if Jason Campbell ever were to have a terrific night, specifically throwing the ball, I think it would light a fire under Cutler and send a distinct message. The message? You can't turn the ball whenever you want and expect to be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears ad infinitum.
If the season came down to Monday night's result the Bears would be desperate to have Jay Cutler under center. But I could make a successful argument it is more important to have Cutler healthy for the month of games to follow, three of which are to be played against NFC North foes with winning records.
So get Cutler healthy Monday. Get better in the meantime. Or maybe he'll just check out fine with the doctors this week and I'll have wasted a few hours on this column.
Administrative Note: Please continue to send ideas for site redesign to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.