MORRISSEY: It’s not just Cutler and Bears’ O-line, whole team is to blame
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com December 10, 2012 10:43PM
Jay Cutler, Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen
Jay Cutler vs. the NFL
When Jay Cutler threw for 3,497 yards and 20 touchdown passes and had an 88.1 passer rating with the Denver Broncos in his first full season as an NFL starter in 2007, he established himself as a future star. But despite making the Pro Bowl the next season, he has struggled to live up to that reputation. In fact, his 12th-place ranking in passer rating in ’07 is the highest of his career. Here’s where Cutler has ranked among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating in his career:
Year Team TD INT Rate Rank
2007 Broncos 20 14 88.1 12th
2008 Broncos 25 18 86.0 16th
2009 Bears 27 26 76.8 21st
2010 Bears 23 16 86.3 16th
2011 Bears 13 7 85.7 13th
2012 Bears 16 13 80.9 24th
Updated: January 12, 2013 6:21AM
The Packers were down 14-0 Sunday to the Lions, and against all odds, reason, disease, pestilence and God’s will, they somehow came back to win.
That’s apparently what it takes to overcome a two-touchdown deficit.
We know this because the Bears trailed the Vikings 14-0 and treated it like an ascent of Mount Everest in sandals and swimwear. Minnesota ended up winning 21-14, dropping the Bears to 8-5 and sinking Chicago into a gloom not seen since the Twinkie bombshell hit last month.
The good news? The Cardinals, the Bears’ opponent after the Packers this week, lost 58-0 to the Seahawks. There’s your positive stat of the day.
The Bears have so many problems, it’s hard to know where to start. But let’s go with the quarterback.
After the loss, coach Lovie Smith wouldn’t criticize Jay Cutler — never! — but Cutler had one of his worst performances in a game in which the offensive line wasn’t half-bad. If that sounds like faint praise for the line, it’s because it is. But a good portion of what went wrong had to do with the quarterback. He threw two interceptions and should have had another.
The team and its minions are quick to point out Cutler’s record as a starter (32-21) since he came to Chicago, but what should be distressing to a Bears fan is the shortage of signature victories from him. A game-winning touchdown pass to Devin Hester to beat the Seahawks in 2009 stands out. Later the same year, he threw a scoring pass to Earl Bennett late in regulation and the game-winner to Devin Aromashodu in overtime against the Vikings. I’m sure there’s more. The problem is, there aren’t enough.
He’s clearly the most physically gifted quarterback the Bears have had, but his career passer rating of 84.1 and his 81.8 rating as a Bear don’t say he’s a star. They say he’s Rich Gannon.
He has had seven 300-yard passing games in almost four years as a Bear. Andrew Luck already has six as a rookie for the Colts.
Cutler’s stature, especially in Chicago, is gigantic compared with his accomplishments. But he says he’ll consider taking a hometown discount in his next contract with the Bears, which is nice of him.
This latest debacle wasn’t all on Cutler. Brandon Marshall, for all his gaudy numbers this season, has a problem with dropping important passes. He did it against the Vikings on a catchable ball with the Bears needing to convert a fourth down. It’s not his fault Cutler targets him so often. It is his fault he has missed some big plays this year.
Hester dropped a pass that likely would have gone for a touchdown. He doesn’t add much anymore.
The offensive line had a decent game in terms of sacks allowed (two), but Cutler hurt his neck after being hit by Everson Griffen. When the quarterback gets hurt, it’s a bad day for the line. Blame the linemen, but don’t forget to save some blame for general manager Phil Emery, who’s responsible for their continued employment.
The defensive line also played poorly early on. The linebackers and safeties are going to get lower grades for their performance, but the Vikings’ offensive line opened huge holes for Adrian Peterson in the first quarter. The Bears never recovered from the 14-0 deficit.
Matt Forte rushed for 85 yards on 13 carries but was nowhere to be seen in the first half.
It’s pretty simple. Good teams come back to win games. Good quarterbacks do, too. And this road game against the Vikings was winnable. Ah, but as Smith likes to say, everybody on the team is to blame. It’s a convenient way of saying nobody’s to blame.
The defensive touchdowns have dried up, revealing a very normal football team. It’s a team that could still find its way into the playoffs, but there’s nothing in its performance the last five weeks that suggests anything but a first-round loss. With the way the Bears are playing, I’d rather watch people answer phones on a PBS pledge drive.
Root for whatever ending you want. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe owner Virginia McCaskey will allow Emery to fire Smith. But the only way to find out is if the current collapse continues.
Since George Halas retired for good, every Bears coach who has been fired failed in his last opportunity to beat the Packers. No pressure, Lovie.