Can Jay play Sunday? Bears quiet on QB Cutler

The SportsXchange

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The focus shifted back to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and his groin tear even before Monday night's game, as an ESPN report said Cutler is aiming to be available to face Detroit this Sunday. The Bears would not confirm the report and the situation will go into Thursday before it becomes apparent whether Cutler will make an attempt to play.

The team doesn't have a full practice scheduled until Thursday due to the Monday night game, and will be at Halas Hall for walk-throughs, meetings and a light practice Wednesday.

Originally, the Bears had said it would be a four-week injury and the situation would be played by ear. But if Cutler returns Sunday it would have been three weeks.

Whether Cutler is able to move and throw on the move as he likes will be a major concern.

"We're going to go with whatever the doctors say," Trestman said after Monday's game. "And when they approve Jay to play, then Jay will be back in there. He's making sure Josh (McCown) gets the call and doesn't need it again. He was really good on the sidelines and he was really good during the week helping in our quarterback room with Matt and Jordan (Palmer) to help all of us to get ready for this game."

Many more games like Monday's from McCown and Cutler might want to start worrying, considering his lack of a contract for next year. McCown has a 100.2 passer rating now for his two games played, and one start. He has yet to turn over the ball, and pointed out Monday night that the win over the Packers had to be the biggest of his career.

--Although they did it without facing quarterback Aaron Rodgers beyond the first series, beating the Green Bay Packers, 27-20, on Monday night provided something beyond another win for the Chicago Bears.

Through the course of the game, the Bears re-established confidence in their ability to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which could go a long way toward keeping them in the playoff run long term. That ability hadn't been seen to this extent since Marc Trestman became the head coach, with the exception of their romp past an outmanned Pittsburgh Steelers team.

On the defensive side, the ends both stood out for the first time in a game, and Shea McClellin's three sacks marked his greatest contribution since arriving as general manager Phil Emery's first draft pick

"As a D-line we needed a game like this," McClellin said. "It was a team win overall."

The Bears had only nine sacks coming into the game and produced five. Would Aaron Rodgers' presence have curtailed this? Possibly. Probably. But the Bears had shown zero ability to rush the passer in most games this season and did it with an effective running presence to keep them off balance in Packers rookie Eddie Lacy (150 yards). The Bears had been particularly ineffective rushing the passer before against teams that could counter with a running game. Their losses to Washington and Detroit reflected this.

It's possible defensive coordinator Mel Tucker coming down from the coaches' box to the sideline for the first time had an impact, or the extra week of preparation helped. Regardless, Julius Peppers, McClellin and Corey Wootton rushed the best they had since back in the Lovie Smith regime.

"Our pass rush, you could feel our pass rush on the sideline," Trestman said.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line finally found a way to solve Green Bay's 1,000-pound defensive line trio in the 3-4. After averaging just 49.7 yards rushing against Dom Capers' defenses in the past, running back Matt Forte had 125 yards Monday - with the Bears' most impressive effort being the 78 rushing yards they had in an 80-yard march to kill off most of the fourth quarter -- one that included Trestman's fourth-and-inches gamble from his own 32-yard line.

"All I know is the offensive line blocked their tails off," quarterback Josh McCown said.

The offensive line had established itself as far better in pass protection, but the run blocking had been inconsistent.

"They've done a good job of getting better each and every week," Trestman said of his offensive line. "Dom Capers threw it all at us tonight. Overall, they just hung in there and kept playing."

--The signing Saturday of former Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff could provide a boost to the depleted depth on the defensive line later in the season.

Ratliff has been recovering from surgery last year to repair torn tendons that attach to the pelvis. The 32-year-old, four-time Pro Bowl player was designated physically unable to perform and then released Oct. 16 by Dallas.

"I do feel like I have a lot left in the tank," Ratliff told WMVP AM-1000 in Chicago.

Ratliff was a nose tackle in Dallas, but not a two-gap, hunker-down style. Rather, he played a one-gap style like the Bears use with Stephen Paea. It's also possible Ratliff could fit in at three-technique defensive tackle, where the Bears have been forced to use defensive end Corey Wootton due to season-ending injuries to Henry Melton and Nate Collins.

--DT Zach Minter was waived following the signing of Ratliff. Minter, an undrafted rookie from Montana State, appeared in two games for the Bears this season.
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