Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/21/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Jay Cutler is often criticized for some of his decision-making, on and off the field, including this season's outburst against offensive lineman J'Marcus Webb, but there is no doubting his importance to the Chicago Bears. Take one look at Monday night's embarrassing 32-7 loss at San Francisco in which Chicago finished with just 143 yards of net offense while Cutler was out with a concussion. Adding to a now two-year trend, the Bears are just not the same without Cutler. "I think he is one of the best quarterbacks playing the game, and we are a different football team with him," Chicago coach Lovie Smith told Minnesota media via teleconference Wednesday. "Our record has been pretty good when he started and finished the football game. We're a different football team with him, and hopefully we can be talking about playing a full game with him in there." Smith isn't sure if Cutler will be able to return to the lineup for this week's game against the Minnesota Vikings (6-4), but signs were encouraging on Wednesday. Cutler took a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit by Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins two weeks ago. He ended up playing one more series before he was replaced and diagnosed with the concussion. Smith said Cutler would have been able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday if the team had practiced -- Chicago had the day off because of the Monday game -- though Cutler still needs to be given clearance by an independent doctor to go through full workouts or play in Sunday's game. "That's hard to say," Smith said about Cutler's status for Sunday. "I just know that he's getting better. If he would have practiced today, he would have been on a limited basis. So, things are looking good, but we just don't know." The Bears season was derailed last year after Cutler broke his thumb. In games started by Cutler, Chicago began the season 7-3 and was in the thick of the playoff race. But backup Caleb Hanie struggled to the tune of a 41.8 quarterback rating and lost his four starts and third-stringer Josh McCown was 1-1 as the Bears fell short of the postseason. In Cutler's 50 starts for Chicago since he was acquired in a 2009 trade with the Denver Broncos, the team is 31-19. Without him, the Bears are 2-6, including 1-6 in the past two seasons. Chicago felt it had properly addressed the backup quarterback situation heading into this season by signing former Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders starter Jason Campbell. But all it took was one game with Campbell filling in to remind the Bears how vital Cutler has become to their success. Pressured all game, Campbell completed 14 of 22 passes for 107 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown. He was 11 of 19 for 94 yards in replacing Cutler against Houston. "We feel like we have a good backup plan, but it is a backup plan," Smith said. "Jason can do some good things, but Jay is our starter. I think he is one of the best quarterbacks playing the game, and we are a different football team with him. Our record has been pretty good when he started and finished the football game. We're a different football team with him, and hopefully we can be talking about playing a full game with him in there." Cutler hasn't put up his the numbers he's used to, but the team has won with him. He ranks 24th in the league with an 80.4 quarterback rating and has completed only 59.2 percent of his throws for 1,814 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Meanwhile, Cutler is 5-1 in his career against the Vikings, with a 100.8 quarterback rating and a 65.4 percent completion rate. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Reggie Bush reportedly closing in on contract with Bills

Report: Eric Berry planning to no-show training camp


Eagles could have interest in Gordon if Browns trade him

Report: Fitzpatrick, Jets not likely to have deal before camp

Report: Anquan Boldin signs one-year deal with Detroit Lions

Formula One CEO's mother-in-law kidnapped in Brazil

Mike McCarthy ends weight talk, declares Eddie Lacy ‘ready’

Report: Redskins have discussed possibly signing Hardy

Padres reportedly making progress on Cashner trade

NFL Network to stream on PlayStation Vue

Report: Eagles’ Nigel Bradham charged for assaulting cabana boy

Rudy Gay underwent minor Achilles procedure this summer

Bashaud Breeland brought puppies to Washington camp

Tyler Johnson 'threw up a couple of times' over $50M deal

Should the Yankees hold a fire sale?

Five young soccer players to keep an eye on at Rio Olympics

Conor McGregor's coach predicts result of Nate Diaz rematch

Jordy Nelson starts camp on PUP list, no reason for panic?

Mark Dantonio denies MSU negatively recruits against PSU

Brett Favre selects wife Deanna as his Hall of Fame presenter

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker