It might be hard for the media to accept, but Bears coach Marc Trestman has stated unequivocally that when Jay Cutler is healthy enough to play, he will be the starting quarterback, no matter how well backup Josh McCown does in the meantime.
"There's no change in the plan," Trestman said Monday night after the Bears whipped up on the Cowboys, 45-28. "When Jay is ready to play, he'll be playing."
McCown, who was out of football and teaching gym classes during the first part of the 2011 season, has exceeded everyone's expectations, most recently against the Cowboys, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns in an effort that earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors.
In addition to Trestman, the Bears' locker room -- including McCown -- all acknowledge that Cutler is the unquestioned starter. But one former Bears player disagrees.
“It's going to be awfully hard to take Josh out of there right now the way he's playing,” said Brian Urlacher, who now works for FOX Sports (via PFT). “In my opinion, he should be the guy, he should be the starting quarterback of the Bears, even if Jay Cutler is healthy. You can't take a guy who's this hot out of the football game. If I was on that team, I would have a hard time with them taking him out.”
To hear Trestman tell it, it will be as easy as saying, "Cutler is healthy, now he's our starter."
And whether you think it's the right move or not, Trestman is handling this perfectly. He's made his intentions clear, his players have echoed those sentiments, and there is no confusion inside Halas Hall, even if outsiders disagree.
Whatever happens, Cutler is in the final year of his contract and the Bears will have to decide this offseason whether to re-up him at a steep price, or to go in a different direction. If it's the latter, the team could turn to McCown in the short term while they find and groom their next young franchise quarterback.