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Analysis: In the end, Cutler is Cutler

Jay Cutler looks to the sideline during a time out late in the fourth quarter in the NFC North title game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 at Soldier Field. (H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com )

CHICAGO – The tangled web of the Jay Cutler narrative was supposed to be straightened out Sunday.

His last game on contract, a 33-28 thriller won by the Packers, was going to make it clear. Play well, Good Jay, forget your 1-9 record against Green Bay, and all is OK. Play poorly, Bad Jay, throw a few picks, and it’s time to go.

“The speculation is, ‘Let’s see how he does in this kind of stage,’ ” coach Marc Trestman said after the game. “I thought Jay played well enough for us to win tonight.”

But the web twisted even more during the game as fans and media sought the answer to the beaten question: Who is he – Good Jay or Bad Jay?

The answer, though, lies in the question itself.

He is who he is.

In the first half, his offense showed the bad as it stalled on four three-and-outs, although it also showed the good. On his second drive, an eight-play, 80-yard series, Cutler stormed downfield, completing three passes. He topped it off with a 4-yard spear to running back Matt Forte through the cold, misty air, giving his team a 7-0 lead and its only points of the first half.

Cutler couldn’t control much of what happened after that, though. He couldn’t control Alshon Jeffery fumbling a precise pass in the second quarter, setting up a Green Bay field goal. He couldn’t control that his defense allowed 20 second-half points, or that he threw the ball 24 times, the fewest he has attempted in a full game since last December’s Bears-Packers matchup.

Those looking for answers won’t find any, as the quarterback quandary may be delayed another year with a franchise tag estimated to be worth more than $16 million. On Sunday, Cutler was neither the demon slayer nor the utter failure. He was, simply, Jay Cutler. Calm-tempered, scruffy-faced, strong-armed, up-and-down Jay Cutler.

After the game he stood at the podium, wearing gray and black and a tired gaze. He answered questions about plays and then the postseason.

“I’d love to (come back),” he said before changing the topic. “[Green Bay] controlled the clock well. Early in the game, we went three-and-out too much.”

A reporter picked at the web, asking about contracts.

“I think we’ll deal with that later in the week,” Cutler said. “Right now, [I’m] kind of living in the moment.”

Another reporter asked him how he thought he did against the Packers.

“We didn’t make enough plays to win,” he said. “That’s what it boiled down to.”

After a question about his hoarse throat – he had a cold – there was silence. No more questions.

“All right,” said Cutler. “See you guys.”

He hustled from the podium and left the room.