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.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

David Ortiz thinking about comeback after Chris Sale trade?

Jeff Fisher hilariously explains why he couldn’t find challenge flag

Dodgers have reportedly been in touch with Jose Bautista

D’Qwell Jackson suspended four games for PED use

Coaches irked by late-season Thursday night division games?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Donatas Motiejunas refuses to report to Rockets after they match RFA offer sheet

Green-Beckham touted fake charity for #MyCauseMyCleats

Rashaan Salaam dead at 42

Claire Smith becomes first woman to win BBWAA’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award

Report: Gregory eligible to practice, could play in Week 16

49ers say Colin Kaepernick will start against Jets

The best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

The five must-have sports games of 2016

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 1: News, notes and rumors

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

Box Score 12/6: Klay Thompson and the ball of fire

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL sweaters)

This Jaguars regime needs to be put out of its misery

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

MLB Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

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

The five best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

The five must-have sports games of 2016

Winter Meetings report, Day 1: News, notes and rumors

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL Christmas sweaters)

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

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