By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — Josh McCown is set to start his second game of the season for the Bears after Jay Cutler suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to the Lions.
Head coach Marc Trestman said Cutler is week-to-week and his return “certainly won’t be this week” when the Bears host the Ravens at Soldier Field.
It’s somewhat surprising Cutler will miss time considering Trestman reiterated Monday that he was told at halftime by trainers that Cutler could not make the sprain worse by playing on it.
“There’s swelling now and those kinds of things but it wasn’t a case of it being anything more than a high-ankle sprain than it was, talking to the trainers at that time,” Trestman said.
The head coach confirmed the injury happened with 2:56 left in the second quarter when Cutler was hit by Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch on a 12-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery.
Cutler was taped up at halftime and cleared to play in the second half, but his mobility was clearly affected by the injury and Trestman eventually removed him from the game with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter, leaving some wondering why he didn’t do it earlier.
“It’s very tough to pull your starting quarterback out when he’s throwing the ball with velocity, when he’s hitting his receivers and he’s able to move in the pocket and complete a throwing motion, and all three of those indications confirmed with me that I should keep him in there,” Trestman said. “I know we sacrificed his ability to move around and run, but that was the case after 2 minutes and 56 seconds (were left in) the second quarter.”
Yet Trestman second-guessed himself Monday morning in an interview on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM, saying: “If we had to do it all over again, maybe it would be one series before the two-minute drill.”
But later Monday, Trestman reaffirmed his decision to keep Cutler in the game for that extra series, in which the Bears went three and out.
“After looking at the tape twice today, I thought really the last time, if you look at it closely, there was an indication that we should take Jay out it was on the last throw. He climbed the pocket, it was an awkward throw and he threw the ball into the ground to Alshon (Jeffery),” Trestman said.
That was the last snap Cutler took in the game, a game that Trestman said was one of the quarterback’s best of the season.
“You remember those throws. They were outstanding throws. A third-down conversion, a bomb down the field, a great throw to Alshon Jeffery on the right side of the field and then a perfect throw down the middle in the red zone. These were all after two minutes of the second quarter,” Trestman said. “So it’s just a feel thing. It’s not percentages. He’s our starting quarterback, he’s our leader. If it’s in the best interest of the football team and he can move the team and not hurt himself or the team, we want him to be in there and he wants to be in there. These things come up periodically in the course of seasons and in games with your starting quarterback and you’ve got to make those decisions and they’re not easy ones. But there’s no regrets here.”
Once Cutler finally came out, Josh McCown came in and completed 6-of-9 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown on the Bears’ final drive, giving them a shot to tie the game on a two-point conversion, which ultimately failed.
He’ll go forward as the starting quarterback against the Ravens, which won’t necessarily affect the offense. In three games this year, McCown is 42-of-70 for 538 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions. He has a passer rating of 103.2.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.