Debating whether Jay Cutler will make it through the season

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Quarterback Jay Cutler walks the sideline during the second half of the Bears’ 22-0 loss to the Broncos on Thursday night. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Overreacting to the Bears’ offensive ineptitude in a 22-0 preseason loss to the Broncos would be a violation of football cool. You don’t want to be the person who predicts the world will end on Thursday, only to wake up Friday to a list of chores that includes caulking the bathtub.

But did you see that first-string offense? Yes, its appearance was brief, but so is a trailer for a horror flick. Jay Cutler was sacked twice, thanks to an offensive line that looked like slalom gates. This guy’s not going to make it to Labor Day. And three-of-four passes for 18 yards? Tom Brady can do that in his sleep, though he’d consider it a nightmare.

OK, this is what I’m talking about. Let’s get a grip. Let’s get back to veteran calmness. It was the first preseason game, for crying out loud. No matter how bad things might have looked for the Bears’ offense Thursday night, the only thing that mattered was the actual presence of wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White on the field and in uniform. That’s a win regardless of what the score was in a meaningless game.

Jeffery made it through the game without any flare-up of his hamstring injury. His Bears career has been marked by injuries, so maybe Thursday bodes well for a healthy season. White, who missed his entire rookie year with a shin injury, played for the first time as a Bear and caught a pass. That’s a big deal times two.

Um, White’s reception “went’’ for three yards. That’s the distance from the National Enquirer rack to the cashier at the supermarket. Jeffery gets hurt like people get dressed for work. If we’re cheering the fact that he made it through a game and caught one pass for 12 yards, the bar isn’t just low, it has road rash.

Perspective, please. We’re talking about baby steps here. The offensive starters were in for all of 10 plays. Remember, the Bears are without starting center Hroniss Grasu, who tore a knee ligament in camp and is out for the season. Everything starts with the offensive line, and it’s going to need time to gel.

You want to keep things in perspective? Fine. The Broncos’ best pass rushers, Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, didn’t even play Thursday.

With Grasu out, Cutler was working with veteran Ted Larsen for the first time. It meant that an offensive line already trying to find itself had another challenge in its quest for cohesion. These things take time.

Somebody needs to send out a search party as the line tries to find itself. And while you’re at it, see if you can find Matt Forte. He might not have been the bulldozing running back that coach John Fox likes, but he does has a knack of piling up yards, which is sort of the whole idea. Jeremy Langford, Forte’s heir apparent, had four carries for seven yards in Thursday’s game.

Look, everybody’s getting used to each other. Even though Fox insists that the same offensive “system’’ is in place from last year, new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will be different from Adam Gase, who left to take the Dolphins head coaching job. Different people add different things. These aren’t robots.

Is it a good thing for the Bears’ offense that Loggains looks like he was separated at birth from comedian Patton Oswalt? I don’t think so. It’s more than possible that Gase is the only one with the key to unlocking Cutler’s talents. It’s more than possible that Loggains ends up in the pile of broken-down OCs Cutler has left behind.

You’re kidding, right? You’re extrapolating all this meaning from a measly preseason game? That’s like trying to find meaning in “Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkees.’’ And you’re missing the point of what the Bears are trying to do this season. General manager Ryan Pace put most of his offseason energy into building up the defense. Fox believes that defense wins Super Bowls, and he’s right. No one is saying the Bears have a Super Bowl-like defense yet, but keep you’re eye on what matters in the long run.

When Cutler arrived in Chicago, everybody said the Bears finally had their franchise quarterback. Remember the certainty in everyone’s voice? So now he’s an extremely well-paid caretaker. Swell.

That was eons ago, and things change. The Bears need him to play well and keep the mistakes down to a minimum. That’s not asking too much.

Keeping him alive might be.

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