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Baker's Dozen: Cutler Can't Win With Bears Fans

By Ryan Baker-

(CBS) Jay Cutler can't win for losing.

After overcoming ridiculous questions about his "toughness," he now has to endure skepticism about whether he should be the Bears' starting quarterback in favor of a 34-year-old journeyman.

Instead of his speedy recovery from a torn groin muscle being roundly applauded by the Bears Nation, there is a rather large chorus of naysayers who would rather see Josh McCown remain as the leader of the offense against Detroit, while Cutler continues coaching up his understudy on the sideline.

You've got to be kidding me.

While I admit that I don't think another week of rest would hurt Cutler - especially since he's coming back a full week earlier than the minimum one month of rehab time that was prescribed - if he checks out with the team doctors and is able to practice unencumbered by his injury, then he's playing.

I get the emotional response of fans after a rare win over the Packers, but Jay Cutler is the starter. Period.

He gives the Bears the best chance to win, which is what's it's all about in the NFL, right?

I have been thoroughly impressed with McCown's near flawless performance on the field (3 TD, 0 INT, 100.2 passer rating), and even more enamored with his leadership skills and selfless "team first" attitude. However, there is a reason why he's on his eighth pro football team, if you include the Hartford Colonials of the UFL.

Two years ago, he was coaching high football in North Carolina. It's a heartwarming story, but McCown is a pretty good insurance policy, nothing more.

In a town where seeing a quality backup QB is like a 90 degree day in December, the Bears finally have a competent No. 2 guy they can rely on. I wouldn't exactly call having Cutler and McCown an embarrassment of riches though. With the NFC North there for the taking while Aaron Rodgers is recuperating from a broken collarbone courtesy of Shea McClellin, the 5-3 Bears need their best players on the field to try to distance themselves in a tight division race.

A gunslinging quarterback is always a polarizing figure... unless you win. Big. There will always be Cutty haters who can't stand his reckless interception binges and who don't care for his moody sideline demeanor. But in the Bears record book, he's all but surpassed Sid Luckman as the best passer the franchise has ever employed.

With his contract set to expire at season's end, Cutler could be playing his last eight games as a Bear. Be careful what you ask for. It wasn't too long ago when he was vilified for not being physically able to finish the 2011 NFC Championship game due to a sprained knee.

I'm sure some of that vitriol was fueled by Caleb Hanie being the disastrous alternative. Fortunately, the Bears have a better backup plan now. However, Jay Cutler is still their best option.

Jeff Pearl
The author. (credit: Jeff Pearl)

Ryan Baker serves as CBS 2 Chicago′s lead sports anchor on the 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM weekday newscasts. He joined CBS 2 Chicago from WMAQ-TV in Chicago where he had worked as an anchor and reporter since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @RyanBakerSports, on Instagram @RyanBakerSports and on Facebook. You can read more of his CBS Chicago entries here.

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