The Chicago Bears have officially named Jay Cutler their starting quarterback for the team’s Week 15 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. That decision will end Josh McCown’s run as the team’s signal-caller.
McCown had averaged 352 yards and threw eight touchdowns against just one interceptions over his past three starts, but he’ll head back to the bench as Cutler has been cleared for action. The 30-year-old Cutler has not played since Week 10, as he has been battling ankle and groin injuries this season.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman is making a risky decision by sending McCown and his hot hand to the bench. Chicago is 7-6 and sits in a tie atop the NFC North with the Detroit Lions. After being out for a few weeks, Cutler may need some time to knock the rust off. If that’s the case, starting him could end up costing the Bears a spot in the postseason.
The tricky part is that Cutler is a free agent after the season, and if the team wants to evaluate him to see if he is their long-term answer under center, then playing him is a no-brainer. But if the goal is to win now, McCown might be the better option.
McCown went 3-2 in five starts, this season, but his numbers have been far better than Cutler’s during the 2013 campaign. In seven games this season, McCown has completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 1,809 yards, with 13 touchdowns and one interception. His quarterback rating of 109.8 ranks third in the NFL behind only Nick Foles and Peyton Manning.
Meanwhile, Cutler’s numbers have been pedestrian at best. In eight games he has completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,908 yards, with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His quarterback rating sits at 88.4.
The bottom line on this decision is that McCown is a career backup and Cutler is potentially the team’s long-term quarterback. Trestman probably had to make this move, but if Cutler tanks and the Bears miss the postseason some fans in Chicago certainly won’t be pleased.