The Chicago Bears made official Monday what many had been speculating from the moment quarterback Brian Hoyer crumpled to the ground grabbing his broken arm – former starter Jay Cutler will be back in action Monday night when the Minnesota Vikings come calling on Halloween night, looking to get the taste of the Eagles game out of their mouths.
The story about Cutler has been interesting since he suffered a thumb injury in Week 2. He was legitimately sidelined for a couple of weeks, but remained inactive and out of uniform until Sunday, when Hoyer went down. There were rumors that he was likely ready to come back, but the Bears continued to not clear him for game action, leaving Matt Barkley as the backup. Hoyer had put together four straight 300-yard passing games and was doing a better job than Cutler was when he was playing. They say nobody loses his job due to injury, but apparently that doesn’t apply when you’re coming back from an injury and hadn’t been playing well. They just keep you inactive until the week after you’re needed.
Cutler used to own the Vikings. Prior to Mike Zimmer arriving, Cutler had won six of his previous seven starts against the Vikings. He had a swagger. He even won his first start against a fledgling Zimmer defense, lighting it up for 330 yards and three touchdowns.
Since then? Not so much.
The Vikings have beaten Cutler the last three games – 13-9 and 38-17 at home and 23-20 at Soldier Field. In those three games, he has thrown for a combined 614 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked eight times in those games.
In the seven quarters Cutler played in this season, he was sacked eight times because, for the most part, he is a stationary target when he hits his drop.
While it’s likely those devising the game plan would prefer to have a twitchy Barkley under center, it will be interesting to see if Chicagoans will be more interested in their baseball dream than their football nightmare. The lure of Monday Night Football will attract the usual suspects of rogues and hooligans, but will they be like drunken soccer fans that love their team or drunken soccer fans that hate particular members of their team?
Chicago has a history of booing the hometown quarterback when they’ve seen enough. The Bears went to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman and, as late as the NFC Championship Game, the boo-birds were in the building.
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Cutler has nothing to do with the struggles of the Vikings offense, but he is facing an agitated Vikings defense – rarely a good sign.
If given a choice, just about any Vikings coach, player or fan would be more than happy to see Barkley under the prime time lights with a national audience wanting to get another look at the Vikings to see if they are as bad as they were in Philly.
Trick or treat, Jay. He’s going to bring one or the other. The Vikings defense will likely have an impact on which one that will be … and opposing offenses don’t like the Vikings defense when it’s angry.