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JAHNS: Cutler down? Have no fear, Marc Trestman is here

Updated: October 20, 2013 11:31PM



LANDOVER, Md. — It’s a dreadful situation by all means. Losing your starting quarterback for any amount of time — a week or two or the rest of the season — can change everything.

Especially for teams as injury-riddled as the Bears are right now.

But coach Marc Trestman was hired for situations like these, just like he was hired to harness quarterback Jay Cutler’s natural, but underused talents, to help fix the problems of a porous offensive line and to modernize the offense after years of ineptitude. And Trestman was already doing pretty well in those areas.

But if Trestman truly is the offensive mastermind and quarterback whisperer his track record makes him out to be, it’ll show not only through Cutler, but also via backup Josh McCown with Cutler out with a groin injury. The Bears’ season — with a fragile 4-3 record heading into their off week after a 45-41 loss against the Washington Redskins on Sunday — will depend on it.

Trestman said he hoped Cutler’s injury isn’t too serious, but an MRI on Monday will determine the severity. But the worse can be feared when Cutler gets carted around after limping off the field and TV still-images show him seemingly moaning in intense pain. It can be when his teammates know only a serious injury would keep him out. And it can be when an NFL source confirms that the Bears will sign quarterback Jordan Palmer, whom they released in camp.

“[Cutler] leads our team — he’s our quarterback,” Trestman said. “That’s why we miss him. We want him out there.”

But forge on the Bears must. And if Cutler is out for an extended amount of time, it’ll be on Trestman to continue the productive ways of the offense at a time when the defense continues to struggle.

It should be encouraging that the Bears shredded a porous Redskins defense with McCown in. In fact, for whatever reason — desperation, anger, pride — the Bears were better with McCown than Cutler against the Redskins.

Cutler was 3-for-8 for 28 yards, a sack, a pick-six by linebacker Brian Orakpo and a 8.3 passer rating. McCown finished 14-for-20 for 204 yards, a touchdown and 119.6 rating.

The Bears didn’t punt once in the second half. McCown, who mimicked Cutler’s cadence, had completions of 35, 28, 28, 22 and 20 yards on Sunday.

Trestman said they didn’t change a thing with McCown in. He called the game exactly as if Cutler was still playing.

“I just called the plays according to the plan we had put together, and I thought [McCown] functioned very well in the offense and moved the ball and had the confidence and led his teammates,” Trestman said.

Having receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and running back Matt Forte definitely helps.

Forte had only four carries for nine yards in the first half, but he finished with 91 yards on 16 carries, including a 50-yard score. He scored three touchdowns, becoming the first Bears player to rush for three in a game since Rashaan Salaam in 1995.

“It doesn’t matter to me, we lost the game,” Forte said. “It doesn’t matter if I have 1,000 yards. If we lose, we didn’t do enough to win.”

What does matter is that the Bears managed to stay balanced offensively without their No. 1 quarterback. They didn’t let the Redskins defense, as maligned as it is, tee off on McCown.

“We had to execute better, which we did,” Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “We came out and we had to get it done. We had to be balanced.”

And they also had Trestman.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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