A strong argument could be made that the loss of the Bears' most important player on offense could be enough to help bounce one of his teammates to the top of the discussion for the NFL's Most Valuable Player.
Over the last six weeks, Jay Cutler has officially shut up all of the haters that had him pegged as an over rated, selfish, mediocre, bottom-third-of-the-league starting quarterback. He's been making throws that not many quarterbacks can, but more importantly hasn't been making throws that every quarterback shouldn't. Due in large part to his maturation as a quarterback in the offense, and the Bears willingness to spread the wealth around the field, Cutler had become the most important player on the offense for Chicago.
Yes, more important than Forte.
As we've seen in the past, teams have begged Cutler to make mistakes. But since he has done a better job of recognizing defenses and making the right throws, teams no longer had the option of making the Bears' offense one dimensional.
And yet, even while guys like Roy Williams, Johnny Knox and Kellen Davis are getting theirs, Matt Forte continues to be the most valuable player on the Bears' roster. He is personally responsible for a larger percentage of his team's total offense than any player in the NFL, and has finally started to receive national recognition for his abilities. Whether it's the discussion surrounding his contract or just the fact that he's clearly one of the elite backs in the game today, Forte has been the man in Chicago. I have been roundly blasted on this site and elsewhere for comparing Forte to now-Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk for two years, but now he's backing up my faith by proving to have similar ability.
But the last few games, despite Forte still producing on a weekly basis, the attention of the media has turned to Cutler's "sudden" ability to dominate an NFL game.
With Cutler out, the eyes of the city, media, and pressure to make the playoffs will rest largely on the legs of Forte.
Caleb Hanie will (hopefully) be able to manage the game effectively, and the Bears defense will be asked to step up and take the game over. But Forte is the headliner in Chicago, and everyone knows it.
Aaron Rodgers is having a great year in Green Bay, but he has some of the best receivers in the game to catch passes from him. Truthfully, Rodgers should be - and likely is - the only competition Forte has for the league's MVP this year. It's really hard to dispute the numbers being put up by either player this year, and if both are in the postseason it will be hard to deny either the award.
But the difference this year in Chicago, as was the case in Green Bay last year, is the injury factor. Cutler being removed from the situation for the next five or six weeks presents an opportunity for Forte to emerge as the undisputed bread winner on the Bears. If Forte can carry the load and continue producing the way he has without Cutler, and as the weather in Chicago becomes miserable, the voters will have to give Forte additional consideration for the biggest individual award in the game.
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