With Jay Cutler expected to miss enough time with his shoulder injury that the Bears sent for David Fales, something to watch could be where the Bears fall in the 2017 draft based on what projects to be a supremely difficult final six games.
But Cutler going down, while perhaps having an impact on the organization’s quarterback decision next offseason, casts a dark cloud over something more important. Call it a ripple effect radiating out from the quarterback position.
The Bears and all teams are always in evaluation mode, but the mudslide of injuries and losses combine to bring the process forward for the Bears, more so than if the same regulars were starting at positions secured normally.
“I think we started the season at a certain place and it’s an area I think we’re going to continue to get better at,” coach John Fox said. “We’re going to address some needs. But when you get injuries it does affect your depth and the players that are out there. So it’s not easy, but like I said everybody has to deal with it and we’re no different.”
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The problem is that — and no slight of Matt Barkley here, any more than any other player — without Cutler or even Brian Hoyer, proven operators of NFL offenses, evaluations particularly of wide receivers, offensive linemen and members of that side of the football become significantly more difficult at a time when those evaluations are intensifying and widening.
Barkley might in fact know the offense of the (insert last Bears opponent here) better than he knows the Bears’, having not gone through the offseason, training camp or preseason with the team. Cutler and Hoyer knew where receivers were supposed to be, even if some of them sometimes haven’t. Fales at least was with the Bears before being waived on Sept. 4 in the decision to keep the two veteran quarterbacks.
Meaning: The receiving skills of Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford out of the backfield; the route-running and catch techniques of Cameron Meredith, Marquess Wilson, perhaps even Daniel Braverman and others before the final six games are done; and the timing of Eric Kush and other fill-in offensive linemen, all will be taking their lead from Barkley or Fales.
“The next guy has to step up,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has said in the past. “And we have a pretty good feel for what those guys did and what the rotation will be and how it’ll look and the things that those guys do well, we’ll try to put those guys in those spots.”