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Bears Mon Oct 21 2013

Bye Week Is The Only Saving Grace For The Bears

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngScoring 41 points and losing rarely happens in the NFL. It just seemed inevitable the way the yesterday's game played out.

The Bears defense was gashed again -- nothing new there. But the injury luck they've had the past few years has quickly regressed, bloodying the team to a point where guys that were on the street just two months ago are playing significant snaps during the regular season. The Bye week couldn't come at a more opportune time.

Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs were both forced out early due to knee and shoulder injuries, respectively. Despite being labeled as 'probable to return,' both Pro Bowlers stood on the sideline without helmets and their hands tucked into shoulder pads, watching a defense that could only make a stop if Washington beat itself.

The defense wasn't the only unit ravaged by the physical play either. Receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery each had to take plays off after noted head-hunter Brandon Meriweather launched himself toward their heads high and late. The penalties helped the Bears at the time, but Marshall was taken to the x-ray room after the game to see if there was any damage. The results won't be made public until this afternoon.

And then there was Jay Cutler. On one of the rare plays where the offensive line gave up pressure yesterday, Cutler went down in what seemed to be a relatively gentle way when compared to most NFL sacks. He immediately grabbed at his thigh/groin, and will have an MRI this morning to see how bad the injury is. Judging by the amount of pain he was in, it's unlikely he'll be able to play in Green Bay despite the extra week to recover.

Josh McCown played phenomenally in his stead, but he can't be expected to perform at that level against better units (Washington's defense ranked 30th in the NFL coming in -- one spot ahead of the Bears). The team needs Cutler at the helm to make the playoffs, and if the injury is season-ending, it accelerates the questions that have been hanging over the Bears all season. Do they sign him long term? Do they franchise him? Is a soon to be 31-year-old that hasn't played a full 16 games since 2009 someone you want to build around? One can only hope the injury isn't serious enough for those inquiries to be seriously pondered before January.

Jordan Palmer was on the first flight to Chicago this morning in case the Bears need a backup for a few weeks while Cutler recovers. He did a solid job in the preseason, and would've been the team's choice to stay had they kept three quarterbacks on the roster. Matt Blanchard, who has been with the team the past two training camps, isn't eligible to return until Week 10 following an injury settlement.

Not only do the Bears need to get a number of key players healthy during the Bye week, some changes need to be made on the defensive side in terms of personnel. Shea McClellin might start ceding time to David Bass at defensive end, as his struggles getting off blocks have been troubling for a first round pick. Major Wright, who was subbed out for Craig Steltz on a number of plays yesterday, along with Chris Conte could also see reductions in playing time because of their terrible play so far this season.

The injury news in the next 12 hours along with the adjustments the coaching staff makes over the next 14 days will either cripple the Bears hope of reaching the playoffs, or put them in a position to be far more successful during the second half of the season. Marc Trestman has done one hell of a job with the offense, now can he work with his staff and getting the defense up to snuff? Two weeks of time will tell.

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