The news on the hamstring injury to Jay Cutler, stemming from his attempted tackle following an interception thrown in the second quarter of the Sunday loss to the Arizona Cardinals, came down on Monday, that the quarterback suffered a “strained hamstring.” What exactly that means for the 2015 Bears is anything but clear, however.
The Bears are expected to be without their starting quarterback for more than just next Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks — ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Cutler will miss "at least two weeks" — although coach John Fox would say only that the starter for Seattle “is yet to be determined.”
Whether the Bear at some point elect to shut Cutler down is always an option but the exact severity of his hamstring strain is not public information.
Along with the news comes a longer-term look at possible implications for the Bears. Jimmy Clausen is expected to become the starter effective with the Seattle game.
It is entirely possible for a backup to emerge as a stunning replacement, as Tom Brady did when Drew Bledsoe was injured in the 2001 New England Patriots season.
But Clausen is not viewed as a long-term solution for starting quarterback. Being forced to use a relatively green backup for the better part of this season could be setting the Bears up for a difficult course in 2015 but also for positioning in the 2016 draft that, based on their final record, could afford them options among the elite prospects coming out of college.
The Cutler injury comes as an almost eerie echo of 2011 when Cutler attempted to tackle a San Diego Chargers defensive back after an interception, fractured his right thumb, requiring surgery and sidelining him while the Bears went from 7-3 and near the top of the NFC to 8-8 and out of the playoffs behind Caleb Hanie.
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The loss of Cutler would a massive hit on the quarterback room, with Clausen the starter for the foreseeable future, backed up only by David Fales from the practice squad and who has never taken an NFL snap. Whether coincidence or foreshadowing, Fales was included among the main group of players in the Bears’ 2015 media guide, an inexact indicator of players’ position vis a’ vis making the roster.