Not that Jay Cutler ever thought he was immortal, but “the noise” coming from outside of Halas Hall regarding Bears coach Marc Trestman's decision to start Cutler over Josh McCown last week surely made the quarterback at least consider his own mortality.
That's why Cutler might be a dangerous proposition for opponents in the coming weeks.
“The guy's resilient, you have to understand that,” Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “If you're watching that game, there are a lot of guys that would fold in the situation that he was in. Going into the game, if he's listening to any of the noise outside the building -- there was none of that in the building -- but outside, then going into the game and having [two] interception[s], and being able to fight back from that just shows his mental fortitude, and his toughness that he can fight back and play.”
For awhile, though, observers thought they were correct in their assessment and that maybe McCown was the better option for the Bears over the final three weeks of the season.
After all, McCown racked up nine touchdowns and only one interception in the four games prior to Cutler's return.
In his first game back at Cleveland, Cutler ended his first possession with an interception. Then, another pick in the second quarter returned 44 yards by Tashaun Gipson gave the Browns a 10-3 lead. Cutler woke up quickly afterward, however, and finished with 265 yards passing with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 102.2.
Over the past few days, multiple veterans -- who had long been told by Trestman that Cutler was the starter again as soon as he was healthy -- wondered how the call to make McCown the starter had grown so loud. Multiple reports prior to Sunday's game pointed to sources saying they were unhappy with the coach's decision to go with Cutler.
“The noise last week, as clearly as I can make it, it was the question of who should be playing quarterback,” Trestman said. “Everybody has differences of opinion, and as I've said before football is about from a fan's perspective, from an outside-the-building perspective is everybody wants to be a decision maker, and that's the fun of it. There's time between each play and a week between each game, and it gives everybody a chance to talk about the game and it's a big part of it. That was the noise last week. Every week it's a little different. The first three weeks of the season, the noise was the Bears are going to be undefeated; that was the noise. Whatever happens during the week, you know it's not the veterans you worry about. It's the young guys who are new to the league and understanding that this is a long, long road.”
But even Cutler, who is in the final year of his contract and wants to come back in 2014, admitted “the noise” affected him. McCown said the same after Sunday's game when explaining why he was more proud of Cutler after that outing than any other time they've worked together. McCown said he was affected by the raging debate, too, despite his best attempts "to block it out."
Asked if he feels more relaxed going into Sunday after all the pressure heaped on last week, Cutler said, “I do.”
“Last week was a tough week with everything surrounding it, the implications of the game, having to walk into the media room and deal with you guys if we did lose,” Cutler said. “All those things weigh on you.”
But now, it's time for Cutler to make his own noise.