Bears' Cutler can silence doubters with standout season

I give Jay Cutler credit for using some of his considerable offseason downtime to tell his part of the troubling story from January's NFC Championship Game that won't die.

What the Bears' much-maligned quarterback seemed to want to convey the most to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times was something his face and body language didn't after he exited with a knee injury: that he cared.

"To get to the point we were and the opportunity we had -- I'm frustrated just like everyone else," Cutler said. "I think I've been through a lot here in Chicago, and I would have loved to play."

You want to take the guy's word for it. You want to believe that, with his team on the doorstep of the Super Bowl and his terrible showing up to the point of his injury, Cutler would have liked nothing more than to get back on the field and do everything humanly possible to help the Bears win.

But the TV images of Cutler's look of disinterest and general sense of being disconnected will linger. So, too, will the flood of criticism from fans, media and many current and former players questioning his toughness for not fighting through the pain and returning to action.

Perhaps it is unfair, given that Cutler was dealing with a Grade II medial collateral ligament tear in his left knee (which, interestingly, he says he hasn't yet tested since the title game). Nevertheless, it is likely to continue to be something he won't be able to live down any time soon and nothing he can say will change that.

What Cutler does could be a different matter. Roaring back from this with a standout season while leading the Bears to a Super Bowl victory would be a good place to start.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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