Even a tough guy like Cutler has his limits

When the Bears acquired Jay Cutler in April 2009, I had no idea that the defining image of his career would be what his face looks like while he's taking a sack. We talked about arm strength and attitude, and about his size and durability, but the idea that Cutler's Bears career would be defined by the moments when he is dragged to the turf didn't occur to anyone.

And why would it? In 37 games with the Broncos, Cutler was sacked 51 times, about 1.4 times per game.

In 63 games with the Bears, he has been sacked 158 times, about 2.5 times per game.

That includes the surprisingly devastating sack he suffered at the hands of Washington nose tackle Chris Baker, a twisting, spinning descent to the ground that knocked Cutler out of the game with a groin injury.

Tough guy, that Cutler. The image of him hobbled and bent and limping off the field with all the flexibility of an arthritic senior citizen was a powerful visual reminder of the abuse he takes.

And the struggles of backup Josh McCown was a reminder of just how difficult it is to play quarterback in the NFL, and how lucky the Bears have been to have a player as talented as Cutler at that position.

McCown actually played a pretty good game, which is no surprise. He is a dedicated craftsman: studious, focused, prepared. I remember watching him read the playbook for 30 minutes last year in an otherwise empty locker room, and he is constantly speaking with Cutler on the sideline during games, reviewing plays and telling Cutler what he sees.

And McCown still spent much of Sunday running for daylight.

The hit Cutler took wasn't particularly vicious, but you could read on his face as he fell and his motionless body on the ground that this was one hit too many. Here's hoping this is only a bye week, and not a goodbye week.

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @readjack

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