NFL Insider

NFL INSIDER: Bears sending hottest hand back to bench at wrong time

2013-12-12T18:25:00Z 2014-01-02T18:52:22Z NFL INSIDER: Bears sending hottest hand back to bench at wrong timeMatt Erickson NFL Insider
December 12, 2013 6:25 pm  • 

Marc Trestman kept his word Thursday. The answer to the question of whether that's a good thing will come on Sunday.

Trestman on Thursday announced Jay Cutler will return to his starting QB job after being out four straight games with a bum ankle. And that means the man who filled in so ably in his stead is back on the sideline.

Josh McCown will return to clipboard duty against the Browns in Cleveland this week – after throwing for 348 yards with a 75 percent completion rate, four scores and a 141.9 passer rating in a rout of the Cowboys on Monday night.

McCown seems to have support to stay behind center everywhere he turns – except his first-year head coach. With Cutler out, McCown has thrown 13 TDs and just one interception. (Yeah, he threw a couple bad balls on Monday that really should have been picked, but no more than Cutler gets away with every week on top of the ones he does throw.) He's played really about as well as any Bears quarterback … well, maybe ever, as crazy as that seems.

So why bench the hot hand for the high-priced talent that who has been hobbled and mistake prone? That's a question Trestman is going to be asked plenty over the next few days – and it's a question he really will be asked if Cutler can't get it done in Cleveland on Sunday.

It's the latest in a string of odd decisions from Trestman that have to cause at least some concern heading toward January if the Bears somehow manage to survive this NFC North race to make the playoffs. If the Bears can't trust their coach to make the right call in December, what happens in the postseason?

BEARS (7-6) pick'em (45.5) at Cleveland (4-9)

MattE's pick: Bears 26, Browns 17

Houston (2-11) +5.5 (45.5) at COLTS (8-5)

MattE's pick: Colts 31, Texans 21

Philadelphia (8-5) -4.5 (51.5) at Minnesota (3-9-1)

MattE's pick: Eagles 27, Vikings 23

Washington (3-10) +6.5 (50.5) at Atlanta (3-10)

MattE's pick: Falcons 26, Redskins 20

Buffalo (4-9) -2 (43.5) at Jacksonville (4-9)

MattE's pick: Jaguars 24, Bills 20

New England (10-3) -2.5 (45.5) at Miami (7-6-1)

MattE's pick: Patriots 27, Dolphins 23

Seattle (11-2) -7 (41.5) at N.Y. Giants (5-8)

MattE's pick: Seahawks 31, Giants 23

San Francisco (9-4) -5.5 (41) at Tampa Bay (4-9)

MattE's pick: 49ers 26, Bucs 13

Kansas City (10-3) -4.5 (41.5) at Oakland (4-9)

MattE's pick: Chiefs 27, Raiders 17

N.Y. Jets (6-7) +11 (41) at Carolina (9-4)

MattE's pick: Panthers 29, Jets 20

Green Bay (6-6-1) +7 (49) at Dallas (7-6)

MattE's pick: Cowboys 27, Packers 23

Arizona (8-5) -2.5 (41.5) at Tennessee (5-8)

MattE's pick: Cardinals 24, Titans 17

New Orleans (10-3) -5.5 (47.5) at St. Louis (5-8)

MattE's pick: Saints 34, Rams 17

Cincinnati (9-4) -3 (41.5) at Pittsburgh (5-8-1)

MattE's pick: Bengals 24, Steelers 20

Baltimore (7-6) +6 (48.5) at Detroit (7-6)

MattE's pick: Lions 29, Ravens 26

Last week: 14-2 straight up, 12-4 against the spread. Season: 133-74-1 (.643) straight up, 104-94-10 (.525) against the spread

Matt Erickson is an award-winning journalist whose NFL picks have appeared in The Times for 12 seasons. He covers mixed martial arts for The Times and is assistant MMA editor for USA Today and

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