MORRISSEY: Trestman’s decision to stick with Cutler cost Bears the victory
BY RICK MORRISSEY Staff Columnist November 10, 2013 7:50PM
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Updated: January 10, 2014 2:20AM
This one is on Marc Trestman.
With a hobbled, deteriorating Jay Cutler slowing down the offense in the second half Sunday, his coach should have replaced him with Josh McCown.
The Bears would have beaten Detroit had their backup quarterback played. It’s as simple as that. Amoebae are nodding their heads in agreement, and they don’t even have heads.
If you think I’m blasting away at Trestman thanks to hindsight and a comfortable chair, ask yourself what you would have done if your quarterback had approached you during a game and said what Cutler said to Trestman on Sunday.
“I just asked him at one point, ‘Do I look OK? Am I still getting it done?’ ” Cutler said. “Because I felt really restricted in the pocket when I was out on the field. [The ball] wasn’t getting out as quick. Some of the throws I had didn’t have as much hum as I wanted. I knew Josh was ready to go, and I just didn’t want to get to the point where I was hurting us more than I was helping us.’’
A quarterback questioning himself. Restricted movement. Passes not getting out quickly or with their normal power. Hello?
The Lions beat the Bears 21-19 Sunday at Soldier Field because Trestman refused to see what lots of people with working vision saw. There were several times Cutler dropped to his knees like a bear with a tranquilizer dart in its flank.
The Bears said the injury was a sprained left ankle he suffered late in the first half and not the torn groin muscle that had sidelined him for a game and a half. Whatever it was, the injury severely limited him Sunday. He couldn’t step into his throws. The Picasso statue might have been more mobile.
When the Bears needed his running ability most, on a third-and-11 late in the fourth quarter, Cutler took a few steps, then threw the ball into the grass in front of Alshon Jeffery. Sorry, but McCown would have run for the first down there.
“That’s the cost-benefit analysis and reasoning you make when you’ve got a quarterback in there who’s limited with his mobility,’’ Trestman said. “We elected to keep him in the game, and that’s the price we paid.’’
The coach can give you a sober, analytical answer to anything, which is what he did after Sunday’s game. But that doesn’t make the decision right.
That was proven by the way McCown played after he replaced Cutler with two minutes, 17 seconds left in the game. McCown moved the team the same way he moved it the two previous games in relief of Cutler, using his arm and legs to make things happen.
It made Trestman’s decision to stick with Cutler even more incriminating. This should have been McCown’s game to win, though not everybody agreed.
“There’s not a lot of Jay Cutlers walking the streets,’’ receiver Brandon Marshall said. “I’m talking everybody. I don’t care how great Josh McCown does. He’s awesome. I’m glad we have him as a No. 2. I don’t think we could have a better No. 2. But Jay Cutler is our quarterback, and no one can lead this team better than he can right now.
“Jay’s 80 percent is better than a lot of guys’ 100 percent.’’
But Cutler wasn’t at 80 percent in the second half. He was somewhere around 50 percent. A whole McCown is worth more than that. The 10-play, 74-yard drive he led to get the Bears to within 21-19 was proof.
There were plenty of us who would have sat Cutler on Sunday, no matter how fast a healer the Bears told us he was. Now the question is whether he’ll will be set back by having played Sunday.
You can celebrate his toughness all you want, which is what Marshall did after the game, but the goal is to be celebrating victories. The Bears fell to 5-4, a game behind the Lions in the NFC North.
It was a tough game all around for Trestman. He passed up a 44-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter and watched the Lions stuff Michael Bush. You might notice that the Bears lost by two points.
Give Trestman this: He’s not afraid to be wrong.
“I’ll look at the tape and see what the tape shows,’’ he said. “I may come back [Monday] and say, ‘I made a mistake, I should have taken him out earlier.’ ’’
Trust us, coach, you will.