The topic of the day and what will be until it just isnt 'The Topic' was the state of quarterback Jay Cutler following his concussion. It is a genuine NFL-wide topic for various reasons, as Mike Florio and I discussed in some detail on ProFootballTalk.coms PFT Live on Monday.
Mike raised the question of whether proper procedures and safeguards were observed by Cutler not being removed from the game right after the blow to the head by Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins. Cutler stayed down for a few moments as officials and medical staff checked him out and he was allowed to stay in the game.
But should he have?
My thought was that this is an extremely difficult area for officials, who are in the spot of ring referees in a prize fight. A fighter takes a standing eight-count, the referee checks briefly to see if they can defend themselves and the fight continues if the boxer can maintain his hands up.
Mike rightly noted that the officials are in a tough spot of possibly ordering a key player off the field, with the obvious potential impact on the game. Obviously the league is concerned about the protection of players from concussion effects and Lovie Smith and the Bears are insistent that they will not have a player on the field who is significantly injured.
My early guess is that Cutler will not play against the San Francisco 49ers, who also may be without their starting quarterback after Alex Smith suffered a concussion in the 49ers tie with the St. Louis Rams.
If not Cutler
The natural follow-up issue was where the Bears are with Jason Campbell taking over. Mike and everyone else remembers the death spiral after Caleb Hanie took over after Cutlers thumb injury at about this point last season. The Bears certainly do, which is why signing a Campbell was an offseason priority of incoming GM Phil Emery last offseason.
Mike observed that Campbell was not overly effective coming in for the second half on Sunday. A fair share of that owes to the quality of the Houston defense, and I noted that players told me in the locker room afterwards that the Texans were taking away anything deep in a one-score game.
Campbell did have a 45-yard completion to Brandon Marshall but that was about all other than some very unproductive dump-offs to tight ends and Matt Forte.
The Houston game was the first of six straight against teams currently with winning records (Houston, San Francisco, Minnesota, Seattle, Minnesota, Green Bay). Mikes thought was how the Bears could fall from a No. 1 or 2 seed to having to fight to get in as the fifth or sixth seed via wild card.
That could be the case even with Cutler returning sooner rather than later. The Packers have won four straight to reach 6-3, and Seattle and Minnesota represent important games in potential head-to-head tiebreakers.
Mike mentioned the job that Adrian Peterson did on the Detroit Lions yesterday. Ill address this in more detail as the Vikings approach but one person the Bears have done well to control is Peterson in recent years, after he simply annihilated them early in his career. Peterson had 39 yards in the first Bears game last year, missing the second with the knee injury he is clearly well beyond.