Morrissey: Cutler wisen up- 4-get it
BY RICK MORRISSEYSun-Times Columnist
There are few things more American than one guy tossing a football to another guy on an autumn afternoon.
Jay Cutler's lovely spirals cut through the air Sunday and into the hands of DeAngelo Hall, who did not want to let down his new best-friend-forever by dropping the ball. They made quite the pair.
The only way it could have been better is if they were teammates instead of opponents.
You might have thought reason would have kicked in for Cutler at some point during the Bears' 17-14 loss to the Redskins. Reason should have told the quarterback to avoid throwing in Hall's general direction after the cornerback's second interception of the game, the interception he returned 92 yards for a touchdown. And if not that one, then certainly after his third interception.
But Cutler's common sense couldn't seem to get past his idea that Hall would have trouble covering a Steinway. Factor in Cutler's extremely healthy self-esteem, and you get what occurred when the Bears had the ball near midfield with two minutes, 24 seconds left in the game.
With his team trailing by three points, Cutler went for it all, throwing a deep pass to Johnny Knox, who was streaking down the right sideline. Hall snatched it for his fourth interception of the second half, matching his total for 2009.
Cutler clearly has a hard time distinguishing between daring and tree-stump stupid.
"I've played against [Hall] before," Cutler said. "There's no reason to shy away from him. That's hard for me to say after throwing four picks to a guy. Still, if we had to play them tomorrow, I'd still go after him every time if we could."
The Bears insisted Cutler's intentions were good Sunday even if his results weren't. Although that argument might work for the first two interceptions, it loses steam after that. He hadn't been sharp most of the game. What gave the Bears the notion he suddenly was going to solve Hall-
Anything would have been smarter than a long pass to Knox. He could have thrown a shorter pass to another receiver. He could have thrown the ball in the grass. He could have taken a sack. He could have tested anyone but Hall.
Remember the good old days when people were sure the Cutler-Mike Martz relationship would end up in flames- It's clear now that the bigger danger is that the quarterback and the offensive coordinator think too much alike. For them, there's no such thing as a bad pass. There's no such thing as risk.
There is only a genius and his willing accomplice.
It's why, against all reason, you throw a deep pass with lots of time on the clock and at least a tie within reach.
Whatever checks and balances are in place inside Halas Hall have skipped Cutler and Martz. If coach Lovie Smith didn't step in when Martz ignored the run in the loss to Seattle, it was clear he wasn't going to tell his coordinator to go Tea Party conservative down the stretch against the Redskins.
And nobody in the organization seems to have the nerve to tell the quarterback what to do.
Give Cutler this: His swagger is resilient. The Redskins sacked him three times in the first half, making the gunslinger positively gun shy in the pocket. When the offensive line got its act together in the second half, he was back to his old self, throwing balls all over field.
All the great ones have that kind of cockiness. Problem is, we haven't been treated to the corresponding greatness.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan preached patience with Cutler, his one-time quarterback in Denver, saying the Martz-Cutler union just needs time. Some of Shanahan's postgame graciousness might have come from the fact his team had just won a bizarre battle of turnovers.
But unless Shanahan has some information indicating the 4-3 Bears are going to acquire an offensive line via trade, it's hard to share his optimism. Martz continues his insistence on operating a full-throttle passing game without the line to make it work.
Besides the four interceptions, Cutler fumbled on the Washington 1-yard line early in the third quarter. He didn't get much help from his head coach, who decided against challenging the ruling that the ball hadn't crossed the goal line before the fumble.
Maybe Smith sensed another interception coming on anyway.
Redskins receiver Santana Moss came closest to capturing the ridiculousness of one player picking off four passes in a game.
"I haven't seen that since high school," he said.