Top 13 of 2013: Cutler, McCown and the Bears' starting QB role

Top 13 of 2013: Cutler, McCown and the Bears' starting QB role
December 24, 2013, 12:45 pm
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CSNChicago.com is taking a look back at what turned out to be a memorable year in the Windy City, by counting down the 13 biggest Chicago sports stories of 2013. Check back each day to see what other storylines were good enough to make the list.

For a sports city unaccustomed to having one good Bears quarterback, having two of them was a new experience. Jay Cutler and Josh McCown clearly qualified as “good.” And that struck some as a problem, although it never became one with the Bears’ decision makers.

[MORE -- Trestman: 'We've got to have good amnesia]

Cutler started it all when he went down with a torn groin in the second quarter of the Oct. 20 Washington game. McCown proceeded to give a preview of what he was capable of by lighting up the Redskins for 24 points in the second half on the strength of 204 passing yards. He followed that with a win at Green Bay, the game in which Aaron Rodgers went down with a shoulder injury.

Cutler was back for the Detroit Lions game in Chicago but suffered a high-ankle sprain that was more costly in playing time than the groin tear. McCown, who nearly brought the Bears back against the Lions, started four straight games, with escalating passer ratings – 92.9, 102.4, 114.9, 141.9.

[MORE: Bears can't grab golden opportunity in blowout loss to Eagles]

That served to ignite some civic debate on whether to stay with McCown as the hot quarterback (although the Bears were 3-2 in his starts) or return Cutler to starting when his ankle was sufficiently healed. The discussion did not, however, extend inside Halas Hall, where coach Marc Trestman had decided as far back as that Detroit game that Cutler was the starter. Period.

“I mean, I think it would be foolish just to lie and say we weren’t aware of [the furor],” Cutler said. “That’s unreasonable. Everyone’s human in this building.”

When the time came to name a starter for the Cleveland Browns game, the call was Cutler. FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer reported that not all within the organization were fully on board with the decision. Cutler himself admitted to some awareness of the conflicted sentiments and sought out members of his offense to talk over the situation.

[RELATED -- Marshall: There was 'chatter' about Bears QB situation]

But Trestman’s choice stood. And it was appreciated.

“It just goes to show he’s just a man of his word,” said left tackle Jermon Bushrod. “He said he was going to do something, and it didn’t make a difference how the situation with Josh turned out. Josh got our offense going and helped put us in the position that we are in. Jay came back in and he just stepped up. He got things rolling.”

[KAPLAN: Bears had to start Cutler]

Not at first. Cutler threw two interceptions in the first half of Cleveland game, more interceptions in his first 13 passes than McCown had thrown in 220. But he settled in in the second half and surged dramatically in the fourth quarter, getting the offense into the end zone three times in a 38-31 Bears win.

[FLORIO: Cutler decision about getting to February for Bears]

“You want to acknowledge [that] we were able to hear [the debate], deal with it in our own certain way and move on and get the job done on Sunday.”

Top 13 stories of 2013

13. Wins and losses don't define Chris Sale's season 

12. Nate Robinson's late playoff heroics beat Nets 

11. Northern Illinois takes national stage in 2013, the Year of the Huskie

10. Cubs fire Sveum, showing cracks in foundation 

9. The bizarre catfishing of Manti Te'o

8. Cutler, McCown and the Bears' starting QB role

7. Blackhawks' record-breaking start

6. Historically bad season for Cubs and White Sox

5. Notre Dame crushed in BCS Championship Game

4. Bears sever ties with Brian Urlacher