Jay Cutler places Bears’ offensive burden on the line
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com September 5, 2012 3:40PM
Chicago Bears Practice at Olivet Nazarene University. Chicago Bears No.6 Jay Cutler. August 2, 2012. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: September 5, 2012 4:03PM
It’s a route that Jay Cutler has been very comfortable in driving the past year.
A left on Cusp of Greatness St., a quick right on Give Me Weapons Ave., and then parking that bus directly on top of his offensive line.
So with the start of the regular season just days away, why change now?
Since mid-May, the Bears quarterback has taken at least three opportunities to publicly put the pressure on his offensive line. More specifically, to call them out for allowing too much pressure to be put on him by opposing defenses.
The jabs might have been a bit softer on Wednesday, but they were still thrown.
Cutler was asked for the 100th time in the last month about having a new and improved collection of weapons around him, and found a way to turn that into an “or else.’’
“We can only do as much as they can handle,’’ Cutler said of his offensive line. “If they can only block three-step drops, we can only throw three-step passes. We’re limited to what they can do and as of now, they’ve been holding up really well.
“We’ve got some guys that can play football on the outside. There’s no doubt about that. It’s gonna hopefully make my job easier; being able to get them the ball, let them work. Up front I think the guys know that there’s some pressure on them because Matt Forte can run if we give him holes. If I get the guys the ball on the outside and we hold up enough time we can make some good plays. So it’s gonna be fun to watch.’’
Or real ugly, real quick, especially against a new-look Indianapolis Colts defense that is running the same type of 3-4 that first-year head coach Chuck Pagano ran as the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens last season.
So the question remains: How much can the offensive line handle?
“It’s a test,’’ center Roberto Garza said. “For us, we’ve talked about it, leading into this game all season long. This is where it all starts for us, our journey.’’
It’s a journey that won’t be starting from the crawling position, either.
According to Cutler, the offensive game plan won’t be limited because of the line unless the unit shows that it needs some training wheels in the blocking packages.
“We’ve got to go at [the opposing defense],’’ Cutler said. “We’ve got to attack and we’ll learn from there. We’re not gonna sit back and second-guess ourselves on what we can call and what we can’t call. We’re gonna go into it feeling good and confident that we can protect it, protect me and open up holes for Matt, and we’ll take it from there.’’
Which is the mentality Cutler has been hoping to have since he was first acquired from Denver prior to the 2009 season. Just give him the weapons on the outside, keep him upright, and get out of the way.
“You know I think in past years it’s been defense first and for good reason,’’ Cutler said. “They were really good at it. They won games. With [new general manager] Phil [Emery] coming in he made an emphasis to help out the offensive guys, to help us be successful.’’
The good news for Cutler is that the offensive line did keep him grass-stain free in the two preseason games he played in. Then again, preseason is an entirely different atmosphere than what awaits the line in Week 1 on Sunday afternoon.
“We’re a work in progress, but I like where we’re at,’’ Garza said. “Once the lights go on, it’s a little different.’’
And as far as the latest body blow connecting from Cutler? Well, that’s just life as a Bears offensive linemen these days.
“Yeah, we have to prove ourselves, obviously, make Jay feel comfortable back there because this is a quarterback league,’’ right tackle Gabe Carimi said. “And if he plays well, we’ll all going to have a good chance to win games.’’
Tire tracks from the bus and all.