- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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In case you missed it, the crew over at ESPNChicago.com debated the Hot Button topic of whether Jay Cutler needs to win Sunday against the Green Bay Packers to earn a long-term contract extension from the Chicago Bears. So we’ll start today’s Bears Essentials here.
Colleagues Jeff Dickerson and Jon Greenberg agreed that one game, regardless of the stakes, won’t seal Cutler’s fate. I agree with them.
Dickerson writes: "Either the front office is comfortable enough with Cutler's strengths and weaknesses to believe he is the quarterback of the future for the Bears (a scenario many of us believe to be true) or they don't.
"One start against the Green Bay Packers isn't going to change that."
He adds: "But in all likelihood, another Cutler stinker against Green Bay is probably just costing the quarterback money and leverage in upcoming contract negotiations. If the Bears had doubts about Cutler, why in the world did they start him over reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week Josh McCown? Unless the Bears were convinced that Cutler at quarterback gave the team its best chance to win the division and reach the postseason, the move made absolutely no sense."
Meanwhile, Greenberg writes: "Does fan support matter to the real deciders at Halas Hall? No. But it quiets the noise, noise that the Bears admitted has filtered into the locker room.
"Cutler will probably be a Bear into the future regardless of how he does this Sunday, but he needs this win for reasons outside of money."
I’ve fielded several questions on Twitter concerning this very subject. Since there are more than 140 characters here to respond, here’s what I think regarding the situation: Unless something squirrely takes place during negotiations, Cutler will be a Chicago Bear in 2014, regardless of whether he wins or loses against the Packers. It seems we want to disregard all that’s been said by general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman for the better part of the season. Trestman continues to express satisfaction with Cutler’s growth, and Emery has said on multiple occasions -- including during interviews recently -- he believes Cutler is a franchise-level quarterback.
From what I know of Emery, he’s not the type of guy to say one thing -- especially in a public forum, such as an interview -- and do another. He’s expressed confidence in Cutler’s abilities and encouragement with the quarterback’s growth and demeanor, and if the Bears truly wanted to go in another direction, wouldn’t they have to have a solid Plan B? Somebody tell me what that is, please.
Discussing Cutler’s future a few weeks ago, an NFC scout explained that in his opinion, just five or six signal-callers in the NFL possessed as impressive of a physical skill set as Chicago’s man under center, making it extremely difficult for a team to part ways with such a talent. Combine that with the fact Cutler has displayed real growth in just one season (not even a complete one at that, due to injuries) with Trestman, an improved offensive line and a more talented assortment of weapons, and it’s easy to see why the organization would want to provide the quarterback even more stability and an opportunity to fully grow into his immense potential.
-- CSNChicago.com’s John Mullin explains that Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker isn’t alone in his struggles. Some of the game’s top defensive masterminds are directing units which haven’t lived up to expectations.
Mullin writes: "If coordinator Mel Tucker is the problem behind the decline and fall of the Bears' defense from 2012 to 2013, then this season has to rank as an all-timer for 'problem' coordinators who suddenly got bad or stupid."
-- Roster upheaval is imminent, writes Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. Several players have contracts set to expire, and the team isn’t inclined to bring many of them back based on their performance, their age and other factors.
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