Jay Cutler is ready for just about any scenario next week after the Chicago Bears’ dismal season comes to an end.
He understands changes could be coming. The question is how sweeping.
“Coaches could leave,” Cutler said Wednesday. “Players could leave. I could leave. That’s part of it.”
The future of everyone from general manager Phil Emery to coach March Trestman to his assistants and the quarterback with a seven-year contract is in question with the Bears (5-10) last in the NFC North and the season ending at Minnesota on Sunday.
It’s quite a fall for a team that envisioned a playoff run.
Instead, the Bears are missing the postseason for the seventh time in eight years.
Cutler was at the center of several issues late in the season.
First, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer admitted he was a source behind an NFL Network report criticizing the quarterback’s ability to identify when plays should be changed at the line of scrimmage. Kromer remained on the job, but Cutler got benched last week.
Trestman decided a shake-up was necessary with Cutler leading the league in interceptions (18) and turnovers (24) even though the Bears were out of contention. So he started Jimmy Clausen against Detroit last week.
The result was familiar. Chicago dropped its fourth straight, and Clausen suffered a concussion near the end of the game.
Cutler left Soldier Field thinking he would be watching from the sideline again this week. It was not until later in the day that Clausen began experiencing symptoms, the team said.
It’s not clear who would have started this week had he remained healthy, but either way, Cutler is back in the Bears’ lineup.
For how much longer? That remains to be seen.
Cutler said he is “not the one to answer that question.”
He is sure of one thing. This season has been unlike any other for him.
“It’s a different season,” he said. “It’s a weird season. A lot of things have happened, a lot of things that haven’t went our way for numerous amounts of reasons.”
Cutler said he hasn’t had time to reflect on this season, what went wrong. He figures that will happen over the next few weeks.
For now, the focus is on Minnesota, and he acknowledged it’s not easy preparing this week, with both teams out of contention.
“The guys in the locker room. The guys that have been in the huddle all year long, that I’ve been with — those are the guys that I’ll play for this week,” he said.
Kromer is not sure how the benching will impact Cutler’s performance.
“He’s been focused this week and he’s worked hard at it, he’s worked with the guys, he’s communicated and we expect a good game out of him,” he said.
The Bears were counting on a prolific offense along with a revamped defense to lead them to the playoffs for just the second time since the 2006 team made the Super Bowl.
Instead, the defense continues to rank among the league’s worst. More costly, the offense took a huge step back in its second season under Trestman.
The Bears have gone from second in scoring a year ago to 21st. Cutler, once again, has been a source of frustration for Chicago even though he is in some respects having his best season statistically.
His rating (89.5) and completion rate (66.1 percent) are career highs. He has stayed healthy, too, something that has been an issue in the past.
But he continues to commit turnovers at inopportune times. His game management skills are under question, but the disclosure by Kromer and the benching have also turned a quarterback whose demeanor has been constantly analyzed over the years into a sympathetic figure to some.
“You know, he’s always here early studying film, and (he’s in) the protection meetings and going over everything multiple times,” running back Matt Forte said.
“I talked to Jay last week, too, and told him not to get down in the dumps or anything like that. His spirits were still up and I think he’s going to grow from what happened and be the best Jay that we’ve seen so far.”
NOTES: Trestman on his future: “I can’t control anything other than helping this football team win. We’re 5-10 right now and we’re going for No. 6 on Sunday. That’s where the focus is; it really doesn’t go outside of that.” … DE Jared Allen (ribs), S Chris Conte (back), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (knee) and K Robbie Gould (right quadriceps) sat out practice. DE David Bass (knee), RG Kyle Long (hip) and WR Marquess Wilson (knee) were limited, while DT Ego Ferguson was a full participant after Detroit’s Dominic Raiola stomped on his right ankle during Sunday’s game.
Cutler knows changes could be coming
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