Bears ditch tough talk after loss to Packers, get back to business
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com September 22, 2012 1:40AM
Linebacker Brian Urlacher says the Bears have a tendency to play better when their backs are against the wall. | Mike Roemer~AP
Updated: September 23, 2012 1:04PM
The Bears were back in their comfort zone this week. They defended quarterback Jay Cutler from coast-to-coast criticism of his on- and off-field demeanor and chided the media for overreacting to the Cutler-J’Marcus Webb incident, with coaches bristling at too many questions about a nationally televised loss to the Packers and interviews cut short because ‘‘he’s got to get to a meeting.’’
As awkward as it was, this us-against-the-world attitude is just what the Bears need. A week ago, they sounded like a team from another planet. Cutler was challenging Packers defensive backs to use press coverage against his receivers. Brandon Marshall was looking up the NFL single-season record for receptions.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice was almost matter-of-fact about containing Clay Matthews. (‘‘We’re going to try and block him,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re not going to specifically scheme for him, if that’s what you’re asking.’’) And both Cutler and Tice were downplaying the idea that the Bears might use the running game and time of possession to keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. (‘‘We’re in the point-scoring business,’’ Cutler said.)
That 21st-century, offensive-minded attitude sounds great. But after a discouraging 23-10 loss to the Packers, it’s clear the Bears don’t yet wear it well. Cutler was sacked on the first play for the second consecutive week and seven times in all. He threw four interceptions. And almost every facet of the ‘‘explosive’’ Bears offense with Cutler and Marshall — pass protection, big plays, forcing defenses to pick their poison, moving the pocket, using the tight ends downfield — went out the window.
As it turned out, the Bears should have gotten off the bus running. The only time they had a semblence of consistency is when they were running the ball.
Now the Bears are back to normal. Instead of challenging Rams instigator Cortland Finnegan, Cutler’s tone this week was deferential. (‘‘Cortland does a great job. He’s kind of the battery for that whole defense.’’) And for the first time this season, we heard the familiar strains of that old Bears standard, ‘‘It’s the first year of the offense.’’
‘‘This offense is still young,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘We’re still . . . trying to figure out each other and the relationships and how to communicate. The sky is not falling quite yet.’’
Their bravado of last week was an interesting change of pace. But it’s only when the Bears start closing ranks (‘‘We definitely circled the wagons this week,’’ center Roberto Garza said) that they put that big ol’ chip on their shoulder and do their best work.
That’s why the Bears respond so well after discouraging defeats, like when they routed the Vikings 39-10 at Soldier Field last season after a dismal loss to the Lions at Ford Field.
“I just think we have the right attitude,’’ linebacker Brian Urlacher said. ‘‘Coach Smith has us have the right attitude about it. It’s a workweek for us. We got our butts kicked; we know that. But we’ve got to come back this week.
‘‘For some reason, we play well when we have our backs against the wall. We play better. We should play like that every week, though.’’
They should, but they don’t. But all it will take is a sound beating of the Rams to get us believing again that they can. And around and around she goes.