The Chicago Bears made a big mistake by not leaving Cutler in against the Lions

Editor’s note: This column is written as part of a point-counterpoint. The other column, in favor of pulling Cutler earlier, can be read here.

The Chicago Bears made the biggest mistake of the season on Sunday, and it wasn’t on fourth-and-one.

Plain and simple, the Bears shouldn’t have pulled Jay Cutler at the end of the game against the Detroit Lions.

Now I will admit, it’s hard to argue with the results of Josh McCown taking the Bears down the field and throwing for a touchdown, but taking Cutler out could affect more than the outcome of one game. In essence, it could turn the Bears’ season in the wrong direction.

It all comes down to confidence.

For his first three years in Chicago, Cutler had none. He was constantly left flat on his back as the sacks mounted and spectators worldwide questioned his toughness.

Over the past few seasons it has gotten better, though. The offensive line has improved tremendously, the receiving corps has been replenished with above average receivers and the coaching staff is finally both offensively minded and competent — sorry, Mike Martz, you only fall into one of those categories. 

Given all that, this was supposed to be the year where everything fell into place and the Bears made a run at their first title since the Super Bowl shuffle, which may still be my favorite song.

Before the start of Sunday’s game, Cutler had already led the Bears on two game-winning fourth quarter drives this year, earning him the nickname “Mr. Clutch” from teammate Brandon Marshall. In short, Cutler was confident.

After Sunday’s game, it’s hard to imagine Cutler’s confidence is still entirely intact. Yes, Cutler did look hampered by the groin in the second half of the game, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have been able to pull out another fourth quarter comeback in the end.

On top of that, Cutler took all the snaps with the first team in the week leading up to the game, which meant McCown took no snaps and thus probably wasn’t as ready as he should have been when he entered the game late in the fourth. It also meant the team entrusted Cutler with the responsibility of playing the entire game. He took all the snaps so he could be in until the end, but someone decided during the game that Cutler had done enough and pulled him, which probably didn’t do wonders for his confidence.

Moving forward, there’s uncertainty within the Bears. Questions like, “Was he ready to come back?” and, “Now what?” seem to be circulating more than ever, and frankly it’s bad news for everyone involved.

What happened Sunday might have been the best short-term fix for the Bears, but in the long term I can only see it hurting the team. Cutler seems to have lost confidence in his ability to perform and may have lost trust in the coaching staff for pulling him out at the end. McCown, who played well against Green Bay in Cutler’s absence, is probably more uncertain than ever about what his role on the team is. And the Bears don’t look to be as unstoppable as we once hopped they would be.

It’s hard to know for sure which call was the right one in all of this, but one thing’s for sure: If the season goes downhill from here, Bears fans know where it all started.

Nicholas is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @IlliniSportsGuy.