Memo to GM Angelo: Upright Jay better than On-the-Ground Jay
By JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org October 16, 2011 10:52PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) fires a pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: November 18, 2011 8:55AM
Upright Jay smiles.
Every so often, when the camera sneaks up on him in a weak moment, he actually smiles.
Upright Jay makes plays. He keeps his eyes downfield, steps into the pocket and threads needles like a seamstress. Be it a deep out or a corner route. Upright Jay can make all the throws.
Upright Jay can turn an undrafted free agent such as Dane ‘‘Tweeter’’ Sanzenbacher into a Chicago cult figure that would make Tom Waddle jealous.
Are you paying attention, Jerry Angelo?
On-the-Ground Jay is angry.
On-the-Ground Jay is snarky with the media and makes pouty faces that only a reality-TV star can love.
When On-the-Ground Jay is worshipping the turf after another blindside hit, the Bears’ offense tends to stall a bit.
There is no perfectly thrown 24-yard rope down the middle of the field to Kellen Davis on third-and-nine, like there was midway through the third quarter of the Bears’ 39-10 victory Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. There is no 13-yard laser to Sanzenbacher through a gang of Vikings defenders for a second-quarter touchdown.
There is only failure, not to mention anger from a fan base that has had to sit back and watch a franchise quarterback play almost 21/2 seasons with the Bears and get only glimpses of how good he can be.
Week makes big difference
Further evidence of that was offered up in the throttling of the Vikings, as Cutler had no problem dissecting a defense that looked to have ice-fishing plans already.
Cutler was sacked only once and was hit just five times. That’s usually the kind of damage he suffers on one possession.
The result of having time to throw? He passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns and compiled a gaudy 115.89 quarterback rating. More important, there was no extra time in the ice tub.
‘‘Yeah, that’s how it should be,’’ Cutler said of not having to spend time mending after the game. ‘‘Our guys get paid, too. As long as we’re helping them out, they’re going to be fine for me.’’
Amazing what happens when that clock in Cutler’s head is allowed to tick just fine, especially after the way the Detroit Lions twisted and tugged on the hands of it last week in the Motor City.
‘‘Physically, it’s not that big of a deal,’’ Cutler said last week of all the hits and sacks he had suffered through the first five games. ‘‘Mentally, it just speeds up my clock. It just makes me uneasy in the pocket. You take your eyes from downfield and kind of check to see what’s going on in front of you, so [it’s more] psychologically and mentally [challenging] than anything.’’
If statements like that aren’t an indictment of the job — or lack thereof — that Angelo has done since Cutler has arrived, what is?
‘We managed them’
The remedy was to dumb down the play-calling to help out the offensive line.
‘‘We managed them,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘Some five-step [drops], play-action, left some extra guys in, chipped a little bit. Whenever we help them out a little bit and get the ball out of my hands, it’s going to be easy on me. We have to be judicious moving forward on what we can do, what we can’t do.’’
Jerry, your quarterback is telling you how uncomfortable the blueprint of this team has made him, then going out against the Vikings and showing you good things can happen on nights when the pieces can come together, lesser competition or not.
The problem is that Cutler is good enough to beat teams such as the Vikings and Carolina Panthers while handing out parachutes to his offensive line, but good luck beating the Lions, Green Bay Packers and maybe even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week.
‘‘It was a group effort,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘We’re all trying to manage what we can do on the football field. If we are smart about it, do the things we did [Sunday], more than likely we’re going to be successful.’’
‘‘We’re working on it,’’ offensive coordinator Mike Martz had said last week.
Here’s a novel idea: How about you guys start ‘‘working on it’’ in, say, April? Or maybe start working on it during free agency instead of sitting on cap money for some unknown slush fund that still hasn’t paid all-purpose running back Matt Forte.
Upright Jay can do a lot of things when given a chance.
Best of all, Upright Jay can win.