Late in the second quarter on Sunday night, with the Chicago Bears down 10-3 to the Houston Texans, Jay Cutler stepped out of the pocket and eventually crossed the line of scrimmage to make a pass to Devin Hester. The play would be called back, and a review of whether Cutler stepped over the line would ensue.
Bears fans everywhere would also soon suffer from scary memories of 2011.
As viewers watched the replay over and over, the attention shifted from Cutler’s body position in relation to the line of scrimmage to the helmet-to-helmet tackle that linebacker Tim Robbins gave to Cutler.
Cutler was visibly shaken by the hit, and a penalty was called, but the very next play Cutler looked fine after he scrambled and went head first into a defender to pick up a first down.
However, Cutler would not return to the game in the second half due to “concussion-like” symptoms, leaving the Bears to try to win the game with Jason Campbell.
They did not.
As the news came out of Cutler’s concussion, a long diatribe consisting of cuss words and pleas was directed towards my TV screen.
It feels like last season all over again.
A playoff berth seemed almost guaranteed, but now…well, the doubts are beginning to settle in my mind.
I remember last season, with a 6-3 record after a five-game winning streak, Cutler injured his thumb after attempting to tackle a defender. He would miss the rest of the season, and the Bears wouldn’t win a game until week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings, killing any playoff chances the Bears had.
The exact same thing seems to be happening this season.
The Bears are currently atop the NFC North with a 7-2 record, but the Green Bay Packers and even Minnesota Vikings are well within striking range and showing no signs of letting up. The Bears play the 49ers next week (though it’s important to note their QB Alex Smith suffered a concussion as well), and Chicago still has four more divisional games before the regular season is over.
Just as things are going well, an injury ruins it.
The Bears are a better team offensively than they were last season with Matt Forte healthy and Brandon Marshall at the receiving position, and the defense is absolutely spectacular. But possibly having to rely on backup quarterbacks to keep momentum going and the Bears in playoff contention is not something I want to do again.
The Bears have to comply with the newish NFL rules pertaining to concussions, which states a player cannot return unless they’ve been cleared by an independent neurologist. You can never tell when a player will return, if at all, when they suffer a concussion, which makes this whole ordeal very stressful for Bears fans.
I am not putting the nail in the coffin just yet, but the uncertainty of when Cutler will return bothers me a lot.