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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeBron James says Kevin Love-Celtics trade rumor is false

Michael Jordan gifts Kobe Bryant full set of Air Jordans

Bethune-Cookman football player killed at party

Former UFC heavyweight Kevin Randleman dead at 44

WATCH: Chelsea scores three goals in less than 20 minutes

Broncos safety Shiloh Keo arrested for DUI

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mountain West admits error, says Boise St. shot was good

WATCH: John Calipari loses his mind, gets ejected

Former Clemson star Tajh Boyd to speak at John Kasich rally

Peyton Manning's alleged not-so-wholesome image

Hawks not shopping Al Horford at NBA trade deadline

Report: Lincecum has been throwing in secret location

Could Matt Forte become the revival for Patriots run game?

Are the Celtics legimate contenders in the East?

WATCH: Jabari Parker is no joke at NBA Rising Stars Challenge

How Marvelous Marv Throneberry became a Met

WATCH: Filip Forsberg goes beast on Lightning with this goal

Carmelo Anthony on trade rumors: ‘I’m not going anywhere’

Report: Cavaliers shopping Kevin Love, price tag very high

Magic remain tough team to beat

WATCH: Pitt's James Conner works out after cancer diagnosis

CC Sabathia on the outside looking in for the Yankees

Prediction time: NHL award winners

Brook Lopez is the NBA's most underrated big man

Reviewing the Tampa Bay Rays

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker