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When Trestman gives job to Cutler, let the second-guessing begin

Updated: December 12, 2013 1:37PM



Marc Trestman’s decision-making in his first season as Bears coach has come under fire more than his quarterbacks have on the field.

But nothing — from his calls on fourth down, to having Robbie Gould attempt a 47-yard field goal on second down in overtime, to sticking with a hobbled Jay Cutler too long against the Detroit Lions in Week 10 — compares to what will be decided Thursday.

With three games left and the Bears even with the Lions atop the NFC North, Trestman is ready to give the keys back to Cutler.

It doesn’t matter that Josh McCown has a 109.8 passer rating in Cutler’s place or that Cutler hasn’t played a full game in more than two months because of his high ankle sprain and torn groin muscle.

What matters is that Trestman — a renowned quarterback guru and the architect of an offense that has averaged the fifth-most points in the NFL while revitalizing McCown’s career and overcoming all the struggles and injuries on defense — believes that Cutler is the best option.

It might come back to haunt him — the second-guessing has been rampant locally and nationally without Cutler even taking a snap — but Trestman has been unwavering in his stance. If Cutler checks out fine Thursday after going through what Trestman described as a “thorough” workout Wednesday, the ball is Cutler’s on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

“We’ve got a very close quarterback room,” Trestman said. “Guys are resolute in terms of how we operate and how we work. We all feel very, very good about the way we put this thing together. We’re certainly very, very happy about the way Josh has performed, but this has been the plan and we’re going to execute it when Jay is ready to come back.”

How Cutler feels Thursday after going through his workout, which was to include scripted plays with receivers, ultimately will decide if he plays. But Trestman said he anticipated a good workout and was optimistic Cutler would start.

“We’re not going to let it hang through the week,” Trestman said. “The starter [Thursday] has got to get the work. We’ll make that decision [Thursday].”

And if that’s Cutler, Trestman believes there’s enough time to get him game-ready. The workout Wednesday essentially was a practice, and Cutler still has Thursday and Friday.

“I would consider that to be ­sufficient,” Trestman said.

Trestman might be adamantly behind Cutler, but deciding to play him isn’t black and white. Cutler was cleared by team doctors, but the workout was the crucial part to Trestman.

“He’s been cleared from a standpoint of allowing us to work him out at full speed, and allowing him to make a decision and us to make a decision based on how he works out and how he feels after he works out,” Trestman said.

“We want to make sure that he feels good and we feel good.”

The playoff race probably is a factor, and so are the Browns, who are statistically more imposing on defense than any team McCown has faced. The Browns rank seventh in total defense, fourth against the run and eighth against the pass.

“Where they’ve been down is they’re around 40 percent on third down, which is a little below the average in the league and they haven’t done well in the red zone consistently,” Trestman said. “But between the 20s, they’re as tough as any team we’ve played.”

Since Cutler first returned to practice last week on a limited basis, numerous arguments — some based solely on statistics — have been made supporting Cutler and McCown.

But while there are differences between them, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said, there also is one defining similarity.

“They’re both really good fits in the system,” Chudzinski said.

And that system is Trestman’s.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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