Do you think Jay Cutler wishes he had stayed in Denver?
By Neil hayes firstname.lastname@example.org September 26, 2011 11:38PM
Packers cornerback Ryan Bush bears down on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to contribute to a sack in the second half of the Chicago Bears 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday September 25, 2011 at Soldier Field in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: January 8, 2012 1:15AM
Dressed in suits and carrying briefcases, Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell walked briskly down the hallway outside the Bears’ locker room after Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers, four eyes staring straight ahead, presumably attempting to make a clean escape.
The Bears’ general manager and director of player personnel had to realize what was obvious to everyone. The talent gap between the Bears and defending Super Bowl Champion Packers isn’t narrowing. It’s widening. Worse yet, 34 games into his Bears career, the franchise quarterback isn’t improving. He’s regressing.
Jay Cutler demanded a trade three years ago when former Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels made him feel unwanted. Two-plus seasons later, if he wanted out of Chicago, it would be understandable. His career is being held hostage by two of Angelo’s pet theories, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
While most teams build their teams around their franchise quarterback, Angelo has hoped Cutler could elevate mediocre offensive talent while he tries to reload a defense undermined by years of poor drafts. Meanwhile, Cutler doesn’t have the protection, scheme or weapons to match his rival, the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
Angelo so believes that a successful offensive line is less about talent and more about continuity and communication that he failed to properly address the team’s most glaring weakness during the offseason, resulting in Cutler being ground into paste against the New Orleans Saints last week and the third-lowest rushing total in franchise history against the Packers.
In other words, because of deficiencies up front, the Bears can’t protect the quarterback and they can’t run the ball, leaving Cutler precious few options.
Angelo so staunchly believes that quarterbacks make receivers and not vice versa that he failed to upgrade another obvious deficiency. In fact, considering offseason moves consisted of, in effect, trading Greg Olsen for Roy Williams and Dane Sanzenbacher, the Bears might be worse off in the pass-catching department than they were a year ago.
There’s no doubt Angelo would disagree with this assessment. However, after watching a historically inept offense perform as incompetently as ever for two weeks in a row, there are few other explanations. Players still learning Mike Martz’s complex offense is no longer an excuse, if it ever was. The offense either lacks talent or quality coaching. There are no other alternatives.
Cutler played one of his worst games against the Packers. He overthrew receivers. The improved fundamentals he brought into this season are a memory. The hands of the intuitive, internal clock all quarterbacks must have to know when to get rid of the ball are spinning crazily in opposite directions. He often holds the ball to long, although it’s difficult to blame him for trying to make a play while putting his health at risk. When he has time, he sometimes throws the ball too soon.
It was so bad at times against the Packers that a name that should make Bears fans shudder came to mind: Jim Everett. The former Purdue and Los Angeles Rams quarterback took such a ferocious beating for so many years that he lost his confidence and became ineffective.
Was that Everett’s fault? How many hits does a quarterback have to take before something as instinctual as self preservation kicks in?
The cold truth is the Packers and more talented, deeper and younger. Offensively, they are also better coached. With the exception of Matt Forte, is there one offensive player for the Bears who could start for the Packers? Or think of it this way: If the Packers and Bears swapped quarterbacks, the Cutler-led Packers would still have the superior offense.
Cutler isn’t failing the Bears. The Bears are failing Cutler. Angelo keeps insisting he’s right while the evidence is proving otherwise. Meanwhile, Cutler is regressing instead of progressing, the Packers and Detroit Lions are running away with the NFC North and Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers aren’t getting any younger.
Martz is in the final year of his contract. If the offense doesn’t improve, he could be gone, and that would mean Cutler would be on his third offensive coordinator since joining the Bears.
Forte wants a new contract. When negotiations went nowhere during training camp, Angelo postponed talks until after the season. Given all that, Forte might consider moving on at season’s end. Given the state of the running game, which is coming off its lowest production since 1956, when gas cost 22 cents, who could blame him?
Don’t be surprised if while attempting to avoid slobbering defensive linemen while trying to complete passes to well-covered receivers, Cutler wonders if he might have been better off staying in Denver. From Chicago, the idea of playing in John Elway’s shadow probably seems less daunting.