- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Cutler's return: Backup quarterback Josh McCown turned in another stellar effort in relief of Jay Cutler, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions to go with a passer rating of 141.9. McCown has thrown for 1,055 yards over his past four starts with eight TDs and only one interception. But with Cutler returning to the practice field last week, it's only a matter of time before the Bears try to bring him back into the starting lineup. And naturally, some will begin to question if McCown deserves to remain the starter because of the way he has performed. Bears coach Marc Trestman has made the team's plans at that position known early in the week to eliminate any chance of the situation festering into something that could cause a distraction. Look for Trestman to make a declaration early in the team's preparation for Sunday's game at Cleveland, too. There's too much on the line to be dealing with distractions.
McCown knows role: McCown's humility throughout his brief tenure as the starting quarterback should be applauded. Coming off the strong performance against the Cowboys, and a largely successful stint over the past month as the starter, McCown fielded multiple questions concerning whether he deserved the staff's consideration as the possible full-time starter. McCown hasn't wavered on his answers regarding the situation throughout his entire run under center.
"I'm the backup, and Jay's our starter. So if Jay's healthy, Jay should be the starting quarterback. That's really it," McCown said Monday night. "I don't go out here going, 'If I do this, now I'm gonna be the starter.' That's not my mindset. I've told you guys: My mindset is to serve our team as the backup quarterback as best I can, play efficient football, play winning football, and keep us in contention so whenever he takes back over, we're in position to continue to make the playoff run."
Run D still struggling: DeMarco Murray ripped off 99 yards in the first half against the Bears, averaging 7.6 yards per attempt, and that average only increased to 8.1 yards for the game. Murray ran the ball only five times in the second half, but finished with 146 yards. Trestman even acknowledged after the game the Bears "certainly didn't stop the run as much as we would have liked to."
The Bears have allowed 100-yard rushers, including a 211-yard performance by Adrian Peterson, in six consecutive games.
Pass rush just OK: After ramping up the pass rush against Minnesota on Dec. 1 with five sacks, the Bears sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo just twice Monday night. James Anderson and Jeremiah Ratliff each sacked Romo, and the Bears did try to manufacture some pressure via the blitz. Of Dallas' 28 snaps in the first half on offense, 14 of those plays were runs. So it was difficult for Chicago to be effective with the pass rush because the Cowboys were so successful running the ball. Dallas averaged 7 yards per attempt in the first half. The Cowboys were able to throw the ball only seven times in the second half because the Bears dominated time of possession.