COMMENTARY | If you are trying to seek medical attention in the Chicago-land area, expect to be waiting in a very long line thanks to the Chicago Bears having to send even more of their star players to the doctor's office.
The Bears' Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman all left and could not return to the game during Chicago's 45-41 loss to the Washington Redskins in Week 7. The Bears will mercifully get a bye week next Sunday to crawl back home and lick their wounds, but Week 9 will not offer an easy game back as Chicago will travel to Green Bay to face the rival Packers on Monday night.
With Henry Melton and D.J. Williams already lost for the season, is it even possible for the Bears to overcome this latest onslaught of injuries and continue to challenge in the NFC North?
Jay Cutler Groin Injury: Cutler left the game with a groin injury after Redskins' defensive tackle Chris Baker sacked him early in the second quarter. As Cutler hobbled back to the locker room in obvious pain, all fans could do was shake their head and say 'Here we go again.'
In years past, Cutler injuries have marked the unofficial end to two Bears' seasons. In 2012, Cutler had Chicago rolling to an early 7-1 record. However, a concussion cost Cutler the bulk of the next two games and sent the Bears spiraling to a 3-5 second half of the season. They eventually tied with the Minnesota Vikings at 10-6 and missed out on the playoffs by the tie-breaker technicality.
In 2011, Cutler marched the Bears out to a 7-3 start before breaking his thumb while attempting to make a tackle after throwing an interception to San Diego Chargers' DB Antoine Carson in the fourth quarter. The loss of Cutler would mark an immediate nose dive to the Bears' season as they went 1-5 the rest of the way to miss out on the playoffs in what felt like a can't-miss playoff season early on.
With this latest setback to the Bears' QB, Chicago is again left unsure of its future. Unlike years past, the Bears have a more complete offensive unit. Josh McCown came into the game on Sunday and showed he was able to make plays and lead the team down field for scores, however, the Bears will not get to play against the Redskins' defense every week, and Chicago no longer has the kind of defense that can make up for losing Cutler.
The extent of Cutler's injury is still unknown. The Pro Bowl quarterback will be sent to have an MRI done on Monday.
Defense Dropping like Flies: When Brian Urlacher re-tired, Lance Briggs immediately stepped in as the heart of the Chicago defense, but in the fourth quarter of Chicago's Week 7 loss, that heart was ripped out when Briggs was forced to the sidelines with a shoulder injury and would not return. This comes only one week after Chicago lost Williams for the year with a torn pectoral muscle and could have to trudge even further down the depth chart to fill their linebacker needs.
To make matters worse, Pro Bowl corner Charles Tillman had to leave the game a couple of plays later after aggravating a knee, and he too would also be unable to return and help the Bears stop the Redskins from marching down for the game-winning score.
The injuries have certainly taken their toll on the Bears already, as their once imposing defense is giving up just over 29 points per game this season. Week 7 marked the second time Chicago has allowed 40 or more points in a game this season after allowing no such contests at any point in 2012. Chicago has already given up 206 points this season. They did not surrender their 206th point until Week 14 last year.
Dalton Russell has covered the Chicago Bears in print and online media since 1998. He lives just outside the shadow of the iconic architecture of Soldier Field.
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- Jay Cutler
- Chicago Bears
- Charles Tillman
- Lance Briggs