Bears can’t afford Jay Cutler being used as human tackling dummy
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com September 18, 2011 11:14PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) listens to quarterback coach Shane Day during a time out in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Updated: November 10, 2011 12:41PM
When Jay Cutler spoke after the game his voice was a weak croak — what you’d expect from a frog if it had been run over on a bicycle path and was speaking its last words.
In fact, Cutler had been run over.
He also had been gouged and pummeled and slammed and, particularly, kicked in the throat.
Every time he cleared his throat, standing there in his dark blue banker’s suit, trying to answer questions, you wanted to hand him some warm soup or a new trachea.
Cutler had been knocked down and plastered and steamrolled and sacked six times in the second half alone in the Bears’ dismal 30-13 loss to the Saints.
In the first half he had been harassed into throwing an intentionally grounded pass and then was drilled in the back a minute later on a blind-side blitz by Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.
After that one, Cutler stayed on one knee for a spell and staggered around before returning to the huddle.
You expected a boxing referee to check his gloves and begin to count him out.
Amazingly, none of the stuff Cutler accrued in the first half counted as a sack.
Call it what you want. But here’s the deal, folks: one more game like this and you can kiss your 2011 Bears starting quarterback goodbye.
Seven-step drops are killers
Not even Mike Tyson could withstand a weekly diet of what the Saints fed Cutler.
“We hope he doesn’t have to throughout the season,’’ coach Lovie Smith said in response to the concept of Cutler experiencing similar beat-downs. “Jay and the rest of our team didn’t play well. A lot of things happened that we can’t let continue.’’
Let’s start at the top. What in the hell was offensive coordinator Mike Martz doing by calling all those seven-step-drop passes for Cutler?
On third-and-15 at midfield with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, down 30-13, Cutler’s steps went like this: 1-2-3-4-5-6-BLAM-O! Abruptly he was wearing linebacker Jonathon Casillas for a front lawn.
So we’ve got to question the offensive line, which seemed confused and slow and plain bad. Are Martz’s and line coach Mike Tice’s blocking assignments too difficult to execute? Or is it the O-line in need of such?
The loss of rookie starting right tackle Gabe Carimi with a knee injury didn’t help. But, I swear there were times when the Bears line was nothing but multiple swinging doors.
Center Roberto Garza was generally solid, but he tossed a shotgun snap at Cutler’s shoelaces when the quarterback was backed all the way into the end zone. Perfect! It was amazing that Cutler was able to grab the ball and somehow throw it out of bounds.
Then you’ve got wide receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Hester being targeted 15 times and catching three balls. And you have wide receiver Earl Bennett catching one early pass for nine yards and getting equally as splattered as Cutler.
After that collision with safety Roman Harper, Bennett lay on the field a long time seemingly unable to breathe. He left the game with a chest injury and didn’t return.
Jay’s passes well off the mark
Which brings us to Cutler himself.
You can’t get so desperate that you lead your receivers into lamp posts and brick walls. And you can’t hold onto the ball so long that every blocking scheme breaks down.
All NFL quarterbacks live with dangerous pressure — maybe you saw the Cowboys’ Tony Romo get clocked Sunday — so there is a delicate balance between successful offensive aggressiveness and near-suicide.
“It was a long day out there,’’ gargled Cutler.
When you complete only 19 of 45 passes, something is off. And there were times when Cutler was just plain inaccurate, throwing behind or way beyond receivers. And why he kept trying to throw lobs into the corners with small receivers we do not know.
What’s for sure is that Cutler led the league last season with 56 sacks. And he has been sacked 11 time in two games this season. At this rate he’ll finish with 88.
Which is a joke. Because he’ll never finish at all.
David Carr of the Houston Texans was sacked an NFL record 76 times in 2002. But Carr was a rookie and the Texans were a first-year expansion team.
Cutler’s in his sixth year, and the Bears have been around since 1920.
Oh, and David Carr never made it to a sixth season as a starter.
Pray for our quarterback/frog.