Words can’t describe how Saints manhandled Bears
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 18, 2011 6:36PM
New Orleans Saints defensive end Junior Galette sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during an NFL football game in New Orleans, La., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. | AP
NEW ORLEANS -- I advanced the word “manhandled” to describe what the Saints did to the Bears on Sunday, and Johnny Knox looked at me as if I had just promoted communism as the answer to all of the nation’s ills.
“Way too strong,’’ the Bears wide receiver said.
How about “battered?” Or “abused?’’
Maybe we can agree on “slapped around.’’
The list of Bears knocked out of the 30-13 loss tells the tale:
Wide receiver Earl Bennett (chest).
Safety Major Wright (head).
Right tackle Gabe Carimi (knee).
The injuries to Bennett and Wright came as a result of collisions with Saints players. Wright’s was particularly nasty, with 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end Jimmy Graham mowing over him as if he were made of drywall.
No, it was a mess inside the Superdome. And that’s not even including the abuse Jay Cutler took Sunday afternoon. In a matter of minutes in the second half, he went from a sitting duck to Duck a l’Orange and Navy Blue. The Saints ate him up, sacked him six times and laughed at the low degree of difficulty involved. He had to throw away pass after pass under pressure, which helps explain why he completed only 19 of 45 passes.
Right from the beginning Sunday, the Bears looked as if they were walking on a wire on a blustery day, which was weird, considering they were playing indoors. And even though they only trailed 16-10 at halftime, the deficit somehow felt bigger than that. They were having all sorts of problems moving the ball. Nothing came easy.
For the second game in a row, the Bears did not complete a deep pass. It’s difficult for receivers to get more than 20 yards down the field when pass rushers are on Cutler like ants on honey. It explains why he threw 14 times to running back Matt Forte, who caught 10 of them for 117 yards.
Cutler got hit so hard in the second quarter he could have been forgiven for being uncertain of where he was, whom he was and why he had chosen crash-test dummy as a profession. For a few seconds after the hit, he held his head while on his hands and knees. It was a picture worth a 1,000-word obituary. But he got up, as he would again and again throughout the day.
“We’re nowhere near where we need to be,’’ center Roberto Garza said of the offensive line. “It’s unacceptable.’’
It wasn’t just blitzes and general chaos that the Saints brought with them Sunday. There was a nastiness to their approach that led to the discussion of the Bears being, ahem, manhandled.
“I made the comment on the sideline that I wouldn’t want to play against them today,’’ Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson said of the New Orleans defense.
And it didn’t help that the Superdome sounded like a convention of jet engines. But that doesn’t explain the competitive imbalance.
The Bears’ defense didn’t do much either. When Drew Brees completes 26 of 37 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns, it’s because the other team isn’t pressuring him. The only reason he might have had a hair out of place Sunday was because he was wearing a helmet. And he really didn’t need that.
After the loss, coach Lovie Smith said several times that it was only one game, though I don’t remember him being so strident about that philosophy after the Bears’ victory over the Falcons the previous week.
I’m fairly sure there aren’t football gods who preside over the sport, but if there are, they appear to be intent on evening things out on the Bears, who hardly had any injuries last season.
Sunday was only one game, but it was a painful one.
If Carimi is lost for an extended period, it’s a big loss for the Bears. At this point, it’s difficult to decide whether the rookie’s importance to the team is a compliment to the Bears’ college-scouting department or an indictment of the Bears’ inability to put together a solid offensive line over the past two years.
But they had better get the offensive line figured out or else Cutler is going to look more like a puddle than a human being.
The Bears are closer to the team that beat Atlanta in Week 1 than they are to the team that New Orleans clobbered in Week 2. Why they couldn’t seem to match the Saints’ level of hostility Sunday is something they’ll have to figure out soon. They face the Packers next.
The Bears came here braced for a loud and difficult game. Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that’s exactly what they got. Actually they got more than that. They got pushed around.
Just don’t tell them they were manhandled.
“We were out there competing,’’ Garza said. “We were fighting. They were just the better team today.’’