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Jay Cutler can take as long as he wants to return from his groin injury. No rush.

Josh McCown is looking fantastic in Cutler's absence. He played very well against the Redskins, but the defense just couldn't stop them. He also played exceptionally well against the Packers, including managing a late game scoring drive that ate up almost a full 9 minutes of the fourth quarter clock to seal the win for the Bears.

In fact, McCown played a near perfect game against the Packers. Trestman's gameplan was very aggressive, and he put the game squarely in McCown's hands early on. He hardly missed any throws, and the few incompletions were usually the result of a receiver dropping the ball (Marshall had several drops). I only noticed two or three throws that looked significantly off the mark, and every one of them was a very safe miss. On top of that, McCown made several good plays under duress, including some scrambles for first downs and weaving around the pocket in order to sling the ball out to a receiver. And he did all of this without losing his chewing gum!

Bears 27 - Packers 20: Josh McCown
Josh McCown has looked exceptional as a replacement for Jay Cutler!

It didn't hurt that Aaron Rodgers was injured on the first possession of the game, and Seneca Wallace struggled to make plays. Chicago didn't have to play catch up against an overpowered Packers offense; although, the running of Eddie Lacy gave Bears' fans plenty to sweat about. Had Rodgers stayed in the game, the Bears certainly would have struggled with defending the pass while also trying to contain Lacy. When the Bears were down, it was never by more than one score, so they were able to stick to their gameplan and run the ball late, despite Matt Forte having poor production in the first half.

In any case, McCown had plenty of opportunity to blow the game and be a goat, but he kept making good decisions and good throws.

While Cutler's injury was expected to take 4 to 8 weeks to heal, he is expecting to suit up for the Lions game next Sunday after missing only 2 games (he had an extra week of rehab time during the week 8 bye). But with McCown playing so well, do the Bears really need Cutler to race back onto the field? He's a quarterback who looks his best when he is mobile, and if he can't run and scramble at full steam, then he may be more of a liability. Especially with the Bears' young, developing offensive line. Sure the line looked good against Green Bay, but that was partly the result of the Packers' defense being tired thanks to the Bears moving the ball so efficiently and controlling the clock.

As long as McCown and the line continue to play at this level, Cutler should be free to take as much rehab time as he needs to get back to 100%, and I can't imagine that the Bears' owners and coaches are particularly eager to have Cutler return prematurely and risk a setback.

Bears 27 - Packers 20: Cutler and Rodgers
Cutler and Rodgers meet after the game to congratulate each other on how well they both rocked their respective team sweaters.

But Cutler may have more selfish motivations for wanting to get back on the field. This is a contract year for him, and every week that he spends sitting on the sidelines while a veteran backup plays as well - or better - than he could reduces his value to the Bears. If McCown sees extended action and performs above expectations, then the Bears may decide they don't need Cutler, and Cutler will be stuck taking a lower salary or becoming a free agent. The Bears can still place the "Franchise tag" on him next year in order to continue evaluating him, and I suspect that is what they will do in order to free up cap space to fill holes in their aging defense. I'm sure Cutler will be able to find a team that wants him, but he may still suffer from devaluation if other teams see how easily Chicago was able and willing to replace him.

In any case, the Cutler roller coaster has been going on for several years now, and I'm curious to see how well McCown can play. I have no complaints with a healthy and happy Jay Cutler being under center for the Bears, but if McCown can bring stability to the position, then maybe we'd be better off without Cutler.

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