Tampa Bay Trumps Cutler, Bears in Chicago’s Worst Game of the Season

***Yes, the title is a petty jab at Cutler revealing himself to be a Trump supporter. No, I don’t feel bad about it. I’m emotionally tapped out. Pettiness is what sustains me right now.***

Talk about throwing a bucket of cold water on an already chilly season for the Bears. Despite a 2-6 record, and a rash of injuries that have essentially destroyed any hope for a postseason run, Chicago came into their match up against Tampa Bay with momentum and positivity.

In their last game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears, buoyed by the return of Jay Cutler, put on an impressive display of efficiency and discipline, and earned a decisive 20-10 win against a strong defense heading in to their bye week.

The team was energized and even inspired, due in no small part to Cutler’s return and his solid, enthusiastic play against Minnesota. Looking ahead, Chicago fans saw a friendly schedule for the rest of the season, starting this Sunday in Tampa against the mediocre Buccaneers. This was a game the Bears were favored to win, and a game that many predicted Cutler in particular would shine.

Instead, he was flat-out awful.

Look, I like Cutler. Terrible politics aside, I think he is often unfairly maligned and criticized, and that a lot of fans in Chicago irrationally blame him for every misfortune the Bears have suffered since he’s been on the team. I certainly have no illusions that he is an elite QB, but he’s better than he’s given credit for. During the whole Hoyer vs Cutler debacle earlier this season I was stridently pro-Cutty.

But I would’ve pulled Cutler yesterday had Hoyer been available on the bench.

The starting QB turned the ball over four (FOUR!) times against a lackluster defense, including throwing a pick six and fumbling in the Bears’ endzone for a safety. He finished with a 55.1 passer rating, which is actually slightly inflated thanks to a lucky bounce on a 50 yard Hail Mary ┬ápass to Cameron Meredith to end the half. He was incredibly careless with the ball, and on a day where he a clear opportunity to extend some of the goodwill he’d built up in fans and coaches, he turned in possibly his worst performance ever as a Chicago Bear.

That is as unexplainable as it is inexcusable, and no reasonable person can defend his performance. Medical staff took a couple looks at him throughout the game, so maybe his thumb was acting up, but no injury was disclosed, and if something was wrong the coaches and medical staff should have sat him out. I mean, after the safety fumble could Matt Barkley really have made things much worse?

Everyone, even Cutler’s defenders, know that ball security and lapses in judgement are his main flaws. When he can control those, he’s a solid quarterback and a needed playmaker for this offense. When he’s this guy, “Bad Jay” who seems like he has no idea what the game plan is or how to protect a football, he’s infuriating to watch and impossible to defend.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with Cutler after this season, and I don’t think it’s fair to make an absolute declaration based on any one game alone. I do know that if he wants to stand even a small chance of being in Chicago next year, he’s going to need to make sure that for the rest of the season he leaves “Bad Jay” at home.

***Oh, and also Kyle Long is out for the rest of the season and Alshon Jeffery is suspended four games for using perfomance-enhancing substances. So, #BearDown

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