The Bears franchise quarterback has been sidelined for five weeks with a thumb injury, but was conveniently activated after Brian Hoyer was placed on injured reserve with an arm injury suffered in Week 7. Talk of Cutler losing his starting gig picked up steam during his absence, as Hoyer played safe, productive football under center, proving to be Cutler's complete foil.
But circumstances have placed Cutler back in the starting role, and the complacent quarterback is as inspired as he's ever been.
"I've had good conversations with Foxy this week, last week, the week before. There's never been any strain in our relationship. We're both very open and honest, and we're on the same page. We just want to win football games."
Earlier this month, in the midst of Hoyer's run, Fox entertained the idea of keeping Hoyer as the starter, musing, "Anybody's that performing well, I don't think we're going to be likely to change." Then, as Cutler's return neared closer, Fox admitted during the week before Hoyer was injured, the Bears"don't have a plan" for when Cutler returns for injury.
"It is what it is. Anytime you have a backup quarterback -- and to Brian's credit, he played well," Cutler said regarding Fox's openness to starting Hoyer. "I think as a team, we wish we would have won some more of those ball games. But Brian went in there and did a great job. My discussions with everybody that I have relationships with in here were positive, and whenever I was ready to go, I'd be ready to go. There was never any discussion regarding (whether I'd take back over) with me."
Cutler sees through this charade, but only he can change his coach's and the organization's opinion of him in the coming weeks. Though Cutler is at little to no risk of losing his job for the rest of this season to Matt Barkley, who proved inadequate on Thursday, his security with this team past Week 17 is no sure thing despite being signed through 2020, and indeed his coach and general manager will have a choice come the offseason whether to move on from their sullen starter.