After some serious concern regarding the severity of his injured thumb, Jay Cutler got some good news from doctors yesterday.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport, Cutler is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after aggravating a previous injury to his right thumb during the Bears’ 29-14 Monday night loss to the Eagles. However, he will not require surgery at this time, as stated by head coach John Fox on Tuesday (via NFL.com).
With his sprained thumb, #Bears QB Jay Cutler expected to miss 2-3 weeks, source said. Timeline depends on how he heals over the next 3 days
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 21, 2016
While his long-term health this season will be a matter worth watching, this prognosis would suggest that Cutler could likely return in time for the Bears’ Oct. 16 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars, while backup Brian Hoyer takes over quarterbacking duties for games against the Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night), Detroit Lions, and Indianapolis Colts.
That said, Cutler’s swift recovery from his most recent injury—a torn adductor muscle in his groin in 2013 from which he returned after missing only two weeks—means that a quick comeback might not be out of the question here. With the injury affecting his throwing hand, however, the Bears may choose to be cautious.
Though Cutler has not been awful this season—his 60.9% completion percentage and 75.7 rating are below his career averages but aren’t terrible in themselves—it would appear that he has been more limited than the Bears’ coaching staff has indicated, given that he supposedly suffered this injury in Week 1 against the Texans.
He has skipped several throws short of receivers, has been errant on short passes, underthrown deep balls, and had a bad fumble on Monday night in which the ball popped right out of his hands. Given the fact that he, in his own words (via ESPN.com), could not grip the ball, these results make plenty of sense in hindsight.
The issue is: when Cutler returns, what do the Bears do about it? Will they do a better job of running the football to protect a quarterback who has been exposed to a ridiculous amount of pressure, including 40% of his dropbacks Monday night, so far this season?
Jay Cutler was most pressured QB in Week 1, facing it on 54.3% of dropbacks. Under pressure 6 of 15 dropbacks so far pic.twitter.com/HU6RodVYhs
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 20, 2016
A healthy Cutler, in theory, certainly makes this team competitive on paper with the relatively soft schedule of opponents that remain. Of course, that hasn’t mattered so far this season, as a combination of poor offensive line play, a non-existent rushing attack, and a lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks have consistently plagued the Bears in their first two games.
It may be time to abandon any notion of playoff contention or an 8-8 season given how this unit has played collectively, though stranger things have happened in the NFL.
And of course, the overarching question that Bears’ brass and fans alike keep turning over in their heads: will Cutler be the team’s quarterback next season?
While this injury might not be expected to keep him out a very long time, his durability issues and lack of playoff appearances have many calling for the front office to move on from the long-time Chicago signal-caller. In truth, it wouldn’t cost the Bears much to move on, as his release would only result in $2 million of dead cap money.
Some think that the Bears’ decision on Cutler’s long-term future with the team is already made. While I’m not sure I agree with that at this moment in time, Cutler’s time in Chicago is inevitably coming to an end soon. But from the looks of it, he’ll at least get a chance to prove he’s better than what we saw in the first two games.
I at least have more optimism that Cutler will improve than I do about Dowell Loggains…