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Time's up for Cutler, Bears QBs
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/3/2010 11:16 PM

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It was only a matter of time, and Jay Cutler's time was up Sunday night.

The Bears' quarterback couldn't make it out of the locker room for the second half at New Meadowlands Stadium.

The Giants' offense was almost as futile as the Bears' was in this ugly game but it was more than enough for a 17-3 victory.

Cutler's diagnosis was a concussion. It could have been a knee. Or a shoulder. Or an internal organ.

Most of all it could have been all of the above.

"You can only take so much," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said, "and tonight was a little too much for him."

At least Bears fans didn't have to witness Cutler stumbling around disoriented, falling to the ground and having to be steered to the sideline. He just couldn't answer roll call after intermission.

Meanwhile, Todd Collins, Cutler's replacement, was hammered to the ground in the second half and had to be attended to before walking off into the night. Overall the Bears' protection clearly was hazardous to a quarterback's health on this night.

Cutler was out of sight and maybe out of mind his when the announcement came that he was finished for the evening.

What a loss this was. Even Bears defensive stars like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs had started referring to Cutler as the face of the franchise.

If the face of the quarterback must be Collins for a while, well, he isn't likely to survive a game if the younger, more mobile, previously more durable Cutler couldn't survive this one.

Anyway, the question isn't how this happened to Cutler. The question is what took so long for it to happen. How did he survive all of last season, his first with the Bears, and the first three games of this season?

Then came the knockout blow: The Giants sacked Cutler nine times in the first half and hit him eight more times. The Giants' pass rush poured through Bears' tight ends, through backs, through the interior of the offensive line, through here, through there, through everywhere.

To be fair, only sometimes was the blocking at fault. Sometimes the Giants' coverage was and sometimes Cutler was for holding the ball too long.

The hope was it would take more than three full games and half of another to experience the flip side of Mike Martz. The genius offensive coordinator is known for treating sacks like they are minor inconvenience rather than harmful to quarterbacks.

Could Martz be blamed for this onslaught? Who knows? Perhaps no coordinator could have protected this quarterback from that attack.

However, the combination was risky from the start: An offensive coordinator who often leaves his quarterback exposed and an offensive line not adequate enough to compensate.

So Cutler wound up with a concussion. Maybe it isn't as serious as it sounds. Maybe the Bears will have their starting quarterback back sooner than later.

"If he's healthy and ready to go, he'll be out there like all our guys," Smith said.

But if Cutler is lost for long and one concussion often leads to another and another the Bears' encouraging 3-1 record will be moot.