The path to glory for the Green Bay Packers this season may have gotten substantially easier yesterday.
While the Packers remained undefeated, taking care of business with a 36-27 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bears kept pace in the Wild Card standings with a 31-20 win against the visiting Chargers.
However, the joy of their win was replaced with the news every team hates to hear late yesterday.
The Bears will have to soldier on without Jay Cutler for the next 6 to 8 weeks as he recovers from thumb surgery for his fractured thumb, suffered in yesterday’s win.
This could not come at a worse time for the Bears, who need to continue to win to fend off the still hanging around the playoff race Detroit Lions, who with their win yesterday remain tied with the Bears at 7-3 and in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt.
Last season, the Bears were almost able to overcome the odds when they were forced to to turn to their back up quarterback, and will need to do the same again this year.
When Caleb Hanie entered the NFC Championship Game last year, few gave the Bears a chance to remain in the game against the Packers. After all, Hanie was the third string QB that day, buried behind Cutler and the immortal Todd Collins on the depth chart. However, when Hanie came into the game, it seemed to spark the Bears play, which had been flat and uninspiring up to that point with Cutler leading them. In fact, if not for one very ill advised throw to B.J. Raji late in that game, it very well could have been the Bears celebrating a win that day, and not the Packers.
The task at hand will be much tougher this go around.
This is not a one game (one half of one game to be exact) proposition for him. This is a close to a half of a season for Hanie, and he is going to be expected to perform at the same level he did in the NFC Championship Game. He does not need to be a superstar-he just needs to manage the game.
Having possibly the best running back in the league behind him will certainly add some comfort to Hanie. However, teams will no doubt target Forte even more now than ever before, as they try and adapt an offense which was designed for Cutler and his skill set. It is not clear how much more they can target him, as he already accounts for 50 percent of the bears offensive yards, but it will be interesting to watch.
The rematch that was on many peoples’ minds is now in doubt. Many people had been anticipating a playoff rematch of these two teams come January. Now, not only is that in doubt, but the playoff future for the Bears is in doubt. I personally was looking forward to seeing how Mike McCarthy would approach the game this year-now he may not have that chance.
If the Bears struggle, what will they do at quarterback until Cutler is ready to return? Would they stick with the basically unproven Hanie, who knows the Bears system? Would they reach out to a veteran free agent, hoping they still have one last stand in them?
Wonder if Brett Favre is around. Then he could complete his revenge tour, as one of my twitter followers so eloquently stated this morning.
Stay tuned. This is going to get interesting.
Filed Under: John Rehor