Thought 1. On the Cutler Injury
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that much of the analysis done on the Bears this season has failed to mention they have been without their starting quarterback for five and a half of the seven contests. Jay has always been undervalued in Chicago, especially by those covering the team and Brian Hoyer’s ability to move the football (without, you know, scoring any points) seemed to convince many reporters that his filling in as signal caller was essentially a push at the position. It’s not.
You ever see Monty Python & the Holy Grail? You know the iconic sequence where King Arthur fights The Black Knight? (Look you stupid bastard, you’ve got no arms left! / Yes I have!) Well that Knight, at that moment in the film, could throw a better deep ball than Brian Hoyer.
Hoyer’s failure to connect on anything down the field has cost the Bears three concrete touchdowns and countless other scoring opportunities.
If Jay Cutler plays these seven games, do they beat Indy and Jacksonville? I think so. Do they beat Green Bay on Thursday night? Yes, I think so. Because all the Bears needed in the second half against the Packers was competent quarterback play. They needed to keep the football, score a few points and keep the pressure on. Instead they got Barkley’d. Hard.
Break down these seven games however you like. But the most important moment, without question, was Cutler injuring his thumb against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Thought 2. On the Injuries, In General
I’ve never seen anything like it.
The Bears are now down two quarterbacks, their starting tailback, two of their three starting receivers, two starting guards, a starting center, their best defensive lineman, one and a half outside linebackers, a starting corner and about four other corners.
And they’re still in every game.
The injuries that hurt most are not the quarterbacks or Eddie Goldman or the guards or Pernell McPhee. The Bears know, for the most part, what those players are and there’s little evaluation left to be done. Goldman, one could argue, is a bit of an unknown but the Bears believe he’s going to be an elite nose tackle.
No, the injuries that hurt most are the players the Bears desperately need to evaluate. What is Kevin White? Will Kyle Fuller be a fit in this defensive system? Can Deiondre’ Hall develop the ball awareness required to be a consistent NFL corner? Without these players finding the field in 2016, they’ll enter 2017 as question marks.
The second half of the schedule is not particularly difficult for the Bears but wins and losses are now secondary. They need to continue developing young talent. But that’s difficult to do when the young talent is wearing a jumpsuit on game day.