Jay Cutler’s thumb injury, a ligament problem that was suffered in the loss to the Houston Texans, is expected to keep the quarterback out for as much as a month. Beyond that...
In the meantime the Bears need to make a change at inside linebacker to cover for the loss of Danny Trevathan, undergoing surgery for a thumb injury of his own that coach John Fox said will not be season-ending. And Lamarr Houston’s knee injury is still being described as serious, although the team is waiting on a more complete evaluation of his MRI before making the call on the outside linebacker’s season. Eddie Goldman’s ankle injury becomes another ominous unknown, with Goldman developing into one of the NFL’s top young nose tackles before his injury in a goal-line situation Monday night in the 29-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The short term is expected to include moving Matt Barkley from practice squad to the regular roster, although Fox and the Bears remain conservative with predicting outcomes, except that Cutler is not expected to play next Sunday in Dallas.
“Not really,” Fox said. “We'll just take it day to day and Brian Hoyer stepped in, and I thought did a pretty good job. We'll evaluate that tomorrow and split up practice as need be.”
Where matters become most intriguing is going forward to the point of a Cutler return.
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The situation vaults Hoyer into the starting lineup, installing a quarterback with a better career winning record than Cutler. And with the organization not committed financially or any other way to Cutler beyond this season, the prospects for both the short and long terms become more than a little intriguing.
By way of background: Overshadowed in the incident where then-coordinator Aaron Kromer in 2014 vented his frustrations with Cutler to a national reporter, was the fact that Kromer and Marc Trestman wanted to stay with Josh McCown when Cutler returned from an injury stint. McCown, not Cutler, was running the offense as drawn up.
The Bears are open to the prospect of moving on from Cutler in 2017, but the chronic issue with that position is that quality options are rare. Hoyer was signed this offseason as part of the win-now foundation of veterans, Hoyer representing a veteran fall-back if Cutler went down, rather than turn to a young pipeline prospect.
To not view this as a de facto audition for Hoyer would be to ignore the obvious, even if Hoyer is obviously not a long-term solution. Hoyer as a place-holder for a young quarterback is one organizational scenario, albeit one with a tinge of desperation. The Bears have neglected the quarterback pipeline for too many years, picking three backup defensive players (linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, defensive backs Deon Bush and Deiondre’ Hall) in the fourth round this draft while Dak Prescott was still on the board. The Bears will see Prescott first hand when they visit Dallas and the Cowboys next Sunday night. GM Ryan Pace hasn’t taken a quarterback with any of his 15 selections over the past two drafts.