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Jay Cutler, Bears’ offense are both still in a fog

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler bench after throwing an interceptilate first half Chicago Bears-HoustTexans game Sunday November 11 2012 Chicago. |

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on the bench after throwing an interception late in the first half of the Chicago Bears-Houston Texans game Sunday November 11, 2012 in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 13, 2012 1:05PM



The best thing that happened to the Bears’ offense Sunday night was the rain. Unless it was the wind. Or the mud.

The elements offered a convenient out, even if the Bears never uttered the weather-related excuse contained in the official team thought bubble: If it weren’t for Mother Nature, we would have moved the ball up and down on the Texans, scored at will and quite likely solved the fiscal crisis.

Also unspoken was the How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up excuse: Just imagine if Jay Cutler hadn’t suffered that first-half concussion!

Sorry, but the offense is a mess, mud or no mud, Cutler or no Cutler. Something is fundamentally wrong, has been all season, and if you’re looking for a specific reason for the offensive struggles, take your pick. There isn’t a wrong answer. Mix and match or collect all the culprits:

-- Offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who seems to have forgotten that Matt Forte is a pretty good running back and receiver.

-- Cutler, who doesn’t look like the “franchise quarterback’’ the Bears say he is, even when his head is clear.

-- Tight end Kellen Davis, who deserves to lose his starting job after his astoundingly poor performance Sunday.

-- Lovie Smith, whose team too often looks out of it at the beginning of the game. Apparently, those stirring pregame speeches of his aren’t resonating.

-- An offensive philosophy that seems to revolve completely around Brandon Marshall, who is either the only one open or has paid Cutler and backup Jason Campbell to throw candy to him as if he were the only kid along the parade route.

-- Earl Bennett, where are you?

-- Whoever’s decision it is to continue to make Devin Hester part of the game plan. He is not a wide receiver. He’s a return man, and not nearly the one he used to be.

-- And of course the offensive line, which had one of its better games Sunday night and still couldn’t do enough to allow the Bears to score a touchdown.

If it sounds as if I’m all over the map as to what the problem is with this offense, what can I say? Even my atlas is shrugging.

We won’t know for several days whether Cutler will be able to play Monday night against the 49ers in San Francisco. Cutler canceled his Monday radio show because he couldn’t be certain if he would be himself or Dr. Ruth.

The debate will rage on as to whether the Bears should have gotten him out of Sunday’s game sooner. He took a vicious hit from Houston linebacker Tim Dobbins, but took part in seven subsequent plays. The Bears said he didn’t show symptoms of a concussion until halftime.

While people discuss that, the Bears won’t have to spend as much time defending their woeful offense. Convenient, but it doesn’t solve the problems.

The idea that Cutler is close to becoming an elite quarterback is getting fuzzier all the time. His loyalists say he’s 12-2 in his last 14 starts. Swell. Kyle Orton was 10-5 as a rookie starter with the Bears in 2005. Rex Grossman was 13-3 the following season. Wins and losses do not an elite quarterback make.

Cutler hasn’t been getting a lot of help from Tice, who had another bad day calling plays. We’d ask Tice what the hell he was thinking against Houston, but he’s not allowed to speak with media members until Wednesdays because, well, I don’t know why. If Smith is concerned Yogi Bear will win fans’ hearts and perhaps take his job someday, he shouldn’t lose sleep.

In the meantime, maybe he should think about letting Cutler’s little buddy, quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, get more involved in game planning. Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo together again. Why not? Nothing else has worked.



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