Jay Cutler will not be playing next Sunday in St. Louis against the Rams. His high-ankle sprain is making that decision for the Bears.
Were he able to play, he would be the Bears’ starting quarterback, the superb relief efforts of Josh McCown notwithstanding.
And the breadcrumb trail remains in place that point to Cutler lining up as the Bears’ starting quarterback in 2014.
“Jay is the quarterback of our football team, Josh is our backup quarterback and all three of us know that,” coach Marc Trestman said.
Trestman said Monday that Cutler will not be available to face the Rams. And even though McCown has won his last three starts as a Bear (including game 16 in 2011) and been within a play or so of winning the Washington and Detroit games the past several weeks, “We know who our starting quarterback is,” said center Roberto Garza.
“I mean even Josh said it: Jay is the starting quarterback for this team. He’s the leader of this team. Josh is our backup. He’s playing really good football right now. There’s no question about that. But Jay remains our starter and I’m sure that will be the case.”
As words like “leader” and other compliments of Cutler resonate from the likes of Trestman, general manager Phil Emery and others, the expectation remains that the team will use its franchise tag to secure Cutler if no long-term deal can be agreed upon. Emery said in his first comments after being hired in 2012 that he viewed the tag as something negotiated by the league and players, he placed it on Matt Forte and it is an option for Cutler.
[RELATED: Week 11 Bears Grades: Quarterback]
The biggest reason is simply that he is the starting quarterback of the Bears. Period.
“I have said this over and over again — I’m the backup quarterback on this team,” McCown said after directing the Bears to Sunday’s 23-20 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens. “The way that I serve my team is to play when the starter is not healthy. Jay is our starting quarterback; there is no doubt about that.
“So for me, I need to serve our team, in my role. Hopefully whenever Jay is healthy, we are still in a position to get everything we want to get accomplished and done when he takes back over. That’s my mindset. That’s what we want to do as an entire team.”