By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Despite what the constant narratives suggest, there’s a reason why Jay Cutler has been voted one of the Bears’ captain each season.
Respect is earned, in any capacity of life. Cutler certainly has warranted it. He’s seen more Bears teammates than anyone else in that locker room and keeps getting the captain vote. Cutler earned that respect with his toughness.
So it came as no surprise to Bears tight end Zach Miller that Cutler was lobbying coach John Fox to play in Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, despite a thumb sprain keeping him out of practice all week. Cutler even tried throwing the football Friday in hopes of finding the strength in his hand to play.
“That speaks to how he is as a player, to his toughness,” Miller said. “Even for him to try to play through something like that, I don’t see where the question of his toughness comes in at all.”
Cutler is listed as doubtful to play in Dallas. All indications suggest that it will instead be veteran backup Brian Hoyer leading the Bears into Jerry Jones’ marvelous AT&T Stadium. The Bears’ receivers were out on the field after practice Friday catching extra passes from Hoyer.
Frustration has followed through most of Cutler’s career in a Bears uniform. He was brought in by former general manager Jerry Angelo to be the team’s long-coveted franchise quarterback, but the team records he’s claimed aren’t an indication of success. Cutler hasn’t ever lived up to his billing.
Plenty can be questioned about Cutler — his contract, his decisions with the football, his knack for untimely turnovers. Now come questions to Cutler’s future in Chicago, especially if the Bears skid this season to the bottom of the standings and the top of the draft.
But nobody can question Cutler’s toughness. At least they shouldn’t.
Miller exhaled when he thought of the Cutler critics.
“That’s how I react,” Miller responded, exhaling once more. “That guy’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever played on a football team with. If you look at the amount of shots he takes — what, do (critics) question his toughness because he has an injury and he can’t play through it?”
Bears coach John Fox chimed in too: “I don’t think that’s a question.”
Cutler has taken a beating during his time with the Bears. The “look-out” block has doomed him many times before. But Cutler keeps getting back up. That alone should end the narratives.
This new season isn’t off to the kind of start the Bears had imagined. After making investments during the offseason, their weaknesses have been exploited to the tune of 0-2. This team simply doesn’t have the kind of organizational depth yet to replace injured starters.
Cutler realizes his importance to his 52 teammates. He’s the Bears’ most irreplaceable player, with the entire offense built around his strengths. The Bears can only hope they don’t suffer the effects of Cutler’s absence when Hoyer is leading the charge.
Friday marks the end of a troubling work week for the Bears. Fox has listed injury reports that are far too deep, with more than half of their starters on the list each day. It’s hard to work with replacements in the huddle. Adding to their difficulties, the Bears are working on a short week of preparation.
News that Cutler’s injury didn’t require surgery was a victory — perhaps the only one to come in Week 3.
When the Bears return to practice next week, Cutler will be working hard and lobbying hard again to play Week 4 against the Lions. His team has struggled against division foes, and beating their likely roommates at the bottom of the standings is important for any hopes this season may hold.
Miller certainly knows what to expect of Cutler. Don’t be surprised if that toughness shines through again.
“For me,” Miller said, “he’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever played football with.”