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Marc Trestman’s refusal to admit Jay Cutler mistake is stunning

Updated: December 13, 2013 6:23AM

By the time he was replaced Sunday, Jay Cutler looked like an old horse headed for the rendering plant. He was limping, slouched, defeated.

On Monday, Bears coach Marc Trestman refused to admit he had made a mistake by keeping his injured quarterback in the game for most of the second half, which tells me Lovie Smith has invaded his body.

‘‘There’s no regrets here,’’ Trestman said.

This is when my mind started wandering.

The Titanic?

‘‘There’s no regrets here,’’ Trestman said.

The Hindenburg?

‘‘No regrets,’’ Trestman said.

Miley Cyrus?

‘‘None,’’ Trestman said.

Trestman’s intractability is disconcerting, seeing as how the Bears could have beaten the Lions had Josh McCown played at least the second half. McCown will start Sunday against the Ravens while Cutler nurses a high ankle sprain. In other words, McCown is the starter a week late.

Did Cutler sprain his left ankle against the Lions because the groin injury he suffered three weeks earlier made it difficult for him to escape pressure? Nobody knows. All we know is that he couldn’t move nimbly after hurting his ankle in the second quarter. He couldn’t step into his throws from the first snap.

To sum up: Other than the reduced velocity on his passes and an inability to run well because of his injuries, he was perfectly fine.

‘‘He’s our starting quarterback; he’s our leader,’’ Trestman said at a news conference. ‘‘If it’s in the best interest of the football team and he can move the team and not hurt himself or the team, we want him to be in there and he wants to be in there.’’

That’s the maddening part. Cutler did hurt himself and the team by playing. For someone as intelligent as Trestman to see it any other way is stunning. If the next thing out of his mouth is that the world is flat, I won’t be surprised.

Cutler was appreciative of Trestman’s faith in him, but a coach’s only job is to win football games, not the trust of the
starting quarterback.

On a third-and-11 late in the fourth quarter, Cutler had a clear lane to run for a first down, but he chose to throw the ball because of his injuries. His pass landed on one hop in front of receiver Alshon Jeffery. Had McCown been in the game, he likely would have been able to run for a first down.

The Bears punted.

After the Lions scored on the next series to open a 21-13 lead with 2:22 left, McCown finally ran onto the field, as perky as a kindergartner on the first day of school. He led the Bears on a touchdown drive in much the same way he had moved the team against the Redskins and Packers in relief of Cutler the previous two games.

Trestman’s decision to start Cutler had larger ramifications. The Bears lost to the Lions for the second time this season, meaning they can’t win a tiebreaker between the teams. (It doesn’t help at all that cornerback Charles Tillman is done for the season after tearing his triceps Sunday.) After the pounding Cutler took against the Lions, it’s hard to imagine him looking anything other than beaten down the rest of the way. He’ll be a free agent after the season, and the Bears won’t have enough hard evidence from 2013 to give him a multiyear contract. Say hello to the franchise tag, Jay.

But that’s for the days ahead. We’re still stuck on Sunday because of Trestman’s stubbornness. You have to wonder whether there was anyone at Halas Hall who questioned him on the decision to stick with Cutler. Cutler felt limited enough against the Lions that he asked Trestman for his assessment on the sideline. Trestman — somehow, someway — thought Cutler looked good enough to keep him in the game.

The Bears can talk all they want about the missed opportunities against the Lions. And there were some. But the one they refused to acknowledge, the one standing on the sideline in the clean No. 12 jersey for so long, cost them a game.

Even quarterback gurus have bad days. Recognizing it is the important thing.

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