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Arkush: Bears might be better without Cutler

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler sits on the bench during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

On 14 of the past 15 Sunday nights and Mondays, I have studied the tape of the Bears’ weekend performances and brought you grades on how they played.

But the Bears’ 54-11 embarrassment at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night was so ugly, what’s the point?

“We will throw this tape in the trash can,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said.

“Nobody played well on our side,” running back Matt Forte said. “It was just one of those games where everything was going their way and nothing went our way.”

Devin Hester, whose fumble of the kickoff after the Eagles’ opening drive touchdown was probably the turning point of the game, put an exclamation mark on how to clean up the mess.

“Pretty much we have to throw this in the garbage,” Hester said. “Enjoy Christmas and not even look at this film. This was a horrible game on our part. We can’t dwell on it and we just have to get past it.”

I respect Trestman, Forte and Hester all, so I’ll cut to the chase. I’m giving everyone on the team – with one exception – an F, for failure against the Eagles.

I said going in that the idea that the return of Lance Briggs and continued improvement of Jeremiah Ratliff by themselves could make this woeful defense viable enough to win a playoff game was a huge stretch. That point was made against the Eagles.

But freed of his responsibilities to run the show, Jon Bostic appeared to at least get to the ball quicker.

I still can’t give him more than a C- for biting on play fakes, overpursuing and missing some tackles when he got there, but Bostic was the one guy who jumped off the tape with more than a couple positive contributions in the first 21/2 quarters.

There were a couple of other revelations from the tape beyond the ugliness, but the most important to me is that Bad Jay showed up again.

Although there was nothing Cutler could have done by himself that would have changed the outcome of the game, his lack of leadership and character got so out of hand in the third period that I’m rethinking for the first time my continued belief the Bears must bring him back in 2014.

Why is he suddenly going to fulfill his potential after failing to in his first eight seasons? The belief is because of Trestman.

After watching him constantly whining to official Mike Carey for noncalls on hits that clearly should have been noncalls, I’m thinking maybe it is time to cut bait. He seemingly lost focus and interest on the two possessions after the Eagles’ touchdown after the Forte safety and most importantly failed to lead.

He’s absolutely the best option this Sunday against Green Bay and maybe he’ll bounce back and change my mind again.

But the fact is, you have to either trust that general manger Phil Emery can find talent or he can’t. To spend another year waiting on Cutler just because of the 60 years of failure at the position that preceded him could be ignoring the obvious and wasting another year.

Josh McCown is not the answer, but he could keep the team competitive for a year or two while the future is either traded for or taken in this year’s draft and then developed.

If Trestman can develop Cutler, why not his own hand-picked youngster who doesn’t carry Cutler’s baggage?

With all of the salary cap attention the defense is going to command, Sunday in Philly left me wondering for the first time if throwing more money at Cutler isn’t just throwing good money and valuable time after bad?

These Bears have shown they can win without Cutler. What I took from the tape of the Eagles game is new doubts as to whether they ever will win big with him.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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