Josh McCown was playing well for the Bears. Jay Cutler was three weeks removed from a groin injury that was supposed to keep him out for at least a month.
The decision was easy for Bears coach Marc Trestman, right? There was no need to rush Cutler back for a huge game against the Lions, even though he'd returned to practice this week. McCown was a bit of a conservative choice at quarterback, but it was the right one.
Well, Trestman didn't make the easy decision, and it might cost the Bears a chance to win the NFC North.
Cutler started against the Lions and wasn't sharp. At one point in the third quarter he grabbed his groin and seemed to be in pain. He moved very slowly after that. The Bears scored 13 points in the first 57:38 of the game as the Lions built a 21-13 lead.
Then Trestman finally put in McCown (the Bears announced Cutler had an ankle injury, and Trestman confirmed that after the game), and really gave himself some reasons for regret.
McCown instantly put together a scoring drive and gave the Bears a chance to win the game. McCown completed 6-of-9 passes for 62 yards, including a touchdown to Brandon Marshall with 40 seconds remaining. The Bears threw an incompletion on the two-point conversion, a penalty gave them another chance, but a questionable call on a run off left tackle to Matt Forte was stuffed. So, even more regrets for Trestman.
Trestman said after that he put in McCown because he knew Cutler would have to run around in the two-minute drill, something he clearly couldn't do.
Trestman pulled cutler because he knew he'd have to run at end with 2minute drill.
— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) November 10, 2013
With the win the Lions took a one-game lead in the NFC North and clinched the tiebreaker over the Bears. Cutler's toughness coming back so soon from a bad injury is commendable, but he shouldn't have been playing on Sunday. Or, at very least Cutler should have been pulled earlier in the game when it was obvious he wasn't 100 percent. McCown made that clear in the final couple minutes of the game.
Trestman will have a long time to ponder his first big mistake as Chicago's head coach, especially if it keeps the Bears home in January.
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