In the days leading up to last Sunday's game against the Browns, some Bears players reportedly weren't convinced that Jay Cutler deserved his job back after what Josh McCown had accomplished in his absence. In fact, McCown was benched shortly after earning NFC Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Cowboys.
But coach Marc Trestman had said from the outset that once Cutler was healthy, he would be the starter. That's what happened in Cleveland, though things got off to a rough start.
Cutler first drive ended with an interception in the end zone, and he added a pick-six before the half. But over the final 30 minutes, he looked sharp, ending the day with three touchdowns while completing 71 percent of his throws. And now, Chicago sits atop the NFC North with two games to play.
On Tuesday, wide receiver Brandon Marshall was asked if there was any truth to the report that the locker room was divided on the McCown-Cutler situation.
"I'm gonna be honest with you, there is a little chatter," Marshall told Jay Mohr. "There's a human element side of things in the sporting world. You have a QB like Josh McCown playing so hot, not only playing great ball for the Bears, but he's one of the hotter QB's in the NFL.
"He was up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, those few weeks he was leading us. So, naturally there is gonna be a little chatter, but at the end of the day we know that Jay Cutler is our QB. He's our franchise QB...he's our leader."
Immediately following Sunday's win, Marshall conceded that Cutler was not only rusty, but also under a lot of pressure to perform well in light of McCown's success.
“Well, you guys have been around Jay for a while now, so he's not going to show it,” the wideout said. “The human side of things, you have a guy in Josh McCown playing lights-out, probably playing the best football of any quarterback in the National Football League.
"I can only imagine the commentators and fans back home after the first and second picks, what they were saying. I'm sure they were ready to hang [Cutler]. This team has been resilient all year, faced adversity really well all year. It was nothing short of that today.”
Whatever happens in the coming weeks, the Bears will be in the market for a quarterback. Cutler's in the last year of his contract and it's not clear what the organization's long-term plans are for him.
Then there's McCown.
As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote last Sunday, "[P]er the collective bargaining agreement, [Chicago] can only offer McCown a one-year extension for 2014 again at the minimum-salary benefit level. McCown's performance has rendered that obsolete. There is literally nothing the Bears can do between now and March, when the free-agent market opens, to negotiate with McCown."