Despite all the Bears’ errors, Jay Cutler turns in decent performance
By RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org October 11, 2011 12:02AM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) scrambles during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Updated: December 10, 2011 1:34AM
DETROIT — Between the false starts, the silly decision to go for it on fourth-and-1, the sillier challenge and the depleted timeouts before the first quarter was over, Jay Cutler must have wondered who his friends were Monday night.
With Bears like these, he didn’t need Lions.
This is how it is for Cutler, and armed with that understanding, he has learned not to expect anything different. Add the deafening roar of a Ford Field crowd excited about its team’s 4-0 start, and you have what he was up against Monday.
He fought by fleeing. He was at his best when he was running for his life. It’s not the way a quarterback wants to exist, but you do what you have to do. He made a number of nice throws on the run, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis in the second quarter.
Cutler threw two passes left-handed. He threw a pass over his shoulder before he could be sacked. The only thing he didn’t do was snap the ball between his legs to a receiver. This is not how football was meant to be played.
“Usually when that happens you’re not going to be very successful,’’ he said. “Nine false starts, we put ourselves in a lot of holes.’’
That is Cutler’s lot, for now. No one outside of Halas Hall seems sure of how good he is or even if he is good. It has been difficult to tell, what with the lack of talent around him.
It’s the biggest reason the Bears are 2-3 after losing 24-13 to the Lions. It’s the biggest reason the Bears’ season is draining away.
Before the game, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was asked whether Cutler is the quarterback he thought he would be when he traded for him 21/2 years ago.
“He is, I would do it all over again,’’ he said. “You can’t play in this league without one. You don’t take a guy that was tried-and-tested, 25 years old, come out of a Pro Bowl, tough market to play in, he understood the NFL — I would do it all over again.
“… When you make a decision, you want to base it on soundness. The decision was sound. Jay’s got to continue to improve, but everything we need in a quarterback Jay has, it’s about him coming together. Just like Julius [Peppers], it’s not about one guy. He needs help.’’
Help is not on the way from Angelo, who insisted the Bears’ wide receivers are good enough. Somebody forgot to tell that to Devin Hester, who short-armed a pass from Cutler in the second quarter and watched the ball skip harmlessly away.
So the Bears compensated with Matt Forte, who rushed for 116 yards. It’s the next best thing to having an offensive line that can pass block. It puts doubt in the defense’s mind. Cutler completed 28 of 38 passes for 249 yards. He was sacked three times but was in danger of being decapitated about twice that number.
Give Angelo credit for answering questions with something resembling directness, unlike his head coach, who neither sees, hears nor speaks evil of anything Bear-related.
Angelo knows Cutler hasn’t met public expectations. He hasn’t come close to his 2008 Pro Bowl season in Denver, when he threw for 4,526 yards.
“We’ve had some protection issues, that balance we talked about,’’ Angelo said. “You [media members] have documented all the things that we’re not able to do. I’m not going to sit here and reinvent the wheel. Those things you bring up are good points. We need to do them.
“The good news is, I’ve been on teams where we didn’t have the parts to do those things. The good news is we do have the parts to do these things, now it’s just a matter of us continuing to grow and staying confident.’’
The Bears don’t have the necessary parts to be great, especially on offense. The Lions do. All you need to do is look at Calvin Johnson to know that. He made the Bears look silly when he blew past safety Chris Harris in the second quarter for a 73-yard touchdown reception.
Cutler doesn’t have anybody remotely close to Johnson. What he has on a fairly regular basis is receivers dropping his passes. Forte dropped one for what would have been a first down in the third quarter.
At least it made you forget the false starts for a while.