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Bears' Cutler has to flip script

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Aug. 03, 2011 @ 10:48 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

As the NFL hits the reset button and gets back to business after a long lockout, Jay Cutler could use a fresh start of his own.

The last time we saw Cutler on a football field he was sitting on the sideline at Soldier Field watching the Bears fall in the NFC championship game. As shots of Cutler on the bench played on TV, former NFL players and other league observers excoriated him on Twitter, questioning his toughness for not playing through an MCL sprain in the second half. There were no apologies issued by the critics after the Bears said the medical team had made the decision to keep him out of the game.

Teammate Matt Forté advised Cutler to forget about that game in a July radio interview on WMVP AM-1000 and suggested that Cutler already has forgotten about it.

I have a hard time imagining Cutler will ever be able to put the NFC championship game loss and the beating he took from critics completely out of his mind, but Forté's larger point is that Cutler needs to move on.

Cutler might knock down or shrug off questions about the criticism if they're asked when he's in front of the media again. It would be no surprise if he chooses not to acknowledge it in public, but how many people forget one of the worst moments of their professional careers?

That will stick with Cutler and always be a part of his career. Not allowing it to become the defining moment of his time in the NFL has to be Cutler's quest.

If he can take that memory and use it as a motivational tool, it will be to his benefit.

His teammates and coaches, who have been unwavering in their support of Cutler whenever he catches heat, will be watching him closely, hoping he shows signs of responding well. Reporters want to see if he's still the same guy or if that January day and the ensuing firestorm changed him.

That story line will be discussed throughout camp. It won't be long, however, until Cutler gets his chance to change the subject with his in-game performance.

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