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Cutler, out another week, remains Bears' No. 1 QB

The SportsXchange

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman does not believe in going with the hot hand at quarterback.

There will be no mystery about a starting Bears quarterback heading into Sunday's game against the Rams at St. Louis, or even in the future when Jay Cutler is entirely healthy, regardless of the efficiency with which backup Josh McCown handles the offense.

"Jay is the quarterback of our football team," Trestman said Monday. "And Josh is our backup quarterback. And the three of us all know that. And that hasn't changed, and it's not going to change."

McCown will start this week's game, as Cutler is ruled out due to the high ankle sprain he suffered Nov. 10 against the Detroit Lions. McCown, 2-0 as a starter, including Sunday's 23-20 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens, will accept the backup role when Cutler is healthy.

There will be no talk of a change even though McCown has gone 101 consecutive passes since throwing an interception and hasn't lost a fumble. Cutler threw eight interceptions this season and lost three fumbles.

McCown hit on 19 of 31 passes for 216 yards Sunday with a touchdown on a screen pass to running back Matt Forte.

"Josh is a talented player and he plays within himself," Trestman said. "I know that's a common coaching term, but he knows what his strengths are. He plays to his strengths. He tries to keep things simple in terms of how he does things, and he's got great work ethic.

"I would never put it on the system (being effective). I would put it more on the work ethic of the player, his focus on doing his job well. He's detail-oriented, just like Jay is."

What McCown isn't is a full-time starter, even if a popular notion in social media and Chicago-area bars is that the Bears should forget about Cutler.

"I don't get emails or calls," Trestman said, "and I try to focus on what I'm doing. I don't spend a lot of time out there worrying about or considering those things. I stay focused on who I'm coaching at the time."

And it's McCown now. Trestman said there is no reason Cutler remains sidelined beyond the ankle injury. How well McCown is playing makes little difference.

"I know that's subject for discussion and differences of opinion," Trestman said. "As I've said many times, we're not going to put a player out there if there's any sense that he's going to re-injure himself or hurt himself or harm himself. I don't ever make those decisions. I make the final decision certainly, but I listen to the doctors and the trainers. It's ultimately my responsibility to play a player.

"But we're going to do what I feel is the best thing to do, and that's to listen to what the medical people say and then work those players out with coaches, see if they're at full strength and they can do all the things necessary to explode in a game. That's how we're going to approach it. We're going to be very, very careful (with Cutler)."

McCown, asked if he feels more like the starter after his winning effort against Baltimore in the wind, rain and slop Sunday, said he would have none of it.

"No," he said. "I have said this over and over again -- I'm the backup quarterback on this team. The way that I serve my team is to play when the starter is not healthy. Jay is our starting quarterback, there is no doubt about that.

"So for me, I need to serve our team in my role. Hopefully, whenever Jay is healthy, we are still in a position to get everything we want to get accomplished and done when he takes back over. That's my mindset. That's what we want to do as an entire team."

Trestman called Cutler "week to week" in announcing McCown would face the Rams. This puts Cutler, at best, starting against the Vikings in Minnesota in Dec. 1.

In the meantime, the Bears will use the quarterback with the hot hand, even if they don't believe in that philosophy.
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