After the season, the "Jay Cutler Effect" will be measured properly and perhaps even a bit embellished.
In the short term, the impact of his rapid return from a torn left groin muscle will be evaluated as he plays Sunday against the Lions when the Bears attempt to inch ahead of them and perhaps the Packers in the NFC North.
Whether Cutler's accelerated return from his Oct. 20 injury is courageous, miraculous or foolhardy, the games will go on and his teammates must respond with a corresponding sense of urgency to capture a division title that appears to be there for the taking with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers out for awhile.
VOTE: Who ya got ... Bears or Lions?
Who wins Sunday's game at Soldier Field?
Bears win big (331 responses)
Bears win close (1259 responses)
Lions win close (386 responses)
Lions win big (215 responses)
Tie tie tie (12 responses)
2203 total responses
(Results not scientific)
This poll is closed to voting.
Halas Hall, Washington Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA
Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
"Jay has super-human healing power," running back Matt Forte proclaimed with a huge smile.
Cutler may need super-human power to withstand the likes of the Lions' indomitable Ndamukong Suh on Sunday.
But it's not exactly as if the Bears hadn't responded positively to the efficient, calculated play of backup quarterback Josh McCown. The 11-year veteran led the Bears to a rare victory in Green Bay on Monday night to set the table for them to control their own destiny.
"Josh doesn't have a 'C' on his chest, but he's definitely one of our captains, especially from an emotional standpoint," wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. "The way he gets guys going, the way he rallies the guys in practice, the way he prepares … it's contagious."
The Bears are averaging 25.8 points per game, fourth-best in the NFL. Only the Broncos (39.4), Packers (27.3) and Saints 27.0) are scoring more.
Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer is delighted the offense didn't skip a beat with McCown running the show. Regardless of who is taking the snaps, the Bears offense relies on solid running from Forte and precise timing routes from Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett. A technique-sound and aggressive offensive line allows all of the finesse players to do their thing.
Cutler's career passer rating with the Bears (83.0 in 63 games) is the best in Bears history ahead of Erik Kramer (80.7), Jim McMahon (80.4) and Jim Miller (76.7).
Cutler also is the Bears' all-time leader in completions with 1,960, surpassing Jim Harbaugh (1,759), Kramer (913), Hall of Famer Sid Luckman (904) and McMahon (874).
"Whenever you get your starting quarterback back off of injury, you feel good about it," Kromer said. "(But) McCown did a very nice job when he was in …."
McCown completed 36 of 61 passes for 476 yards and three touchdowns against the Redskins and Packers. Of most importance, he did not turn the ball over as he built a passer rating of 100.2.
The Bears hope Cutler and McCown interchange seamlessly.
"My new BFF is Jay, so I will have lunch with Jay this week," Bennett said. "Josh can sit with us if he wants."