Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) watches a first half field goal attempt from the sidelines along with receiver Roy Williams (11) and head coach Lovie Smith during the 30-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons September 11, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: December 6, 2011 8:17AM
Late in the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London, the Bears had a first-and-goal from the Bucs’ 4-yard line after a facemask penalty against cornerback Aqib Talib.
In the Bucs’ confusion while Talib protested the call, linebacker Geno Hayes ended up on receiver Roy Williams as the Bears lined up for the next play. Williams saw a touchdown. Quarterback Jay Cutler
saw a touchdown. But before the Bears could snap the ball, the Bucs called a timeout.
It was a missed opportunity that perfectly illustrates the laborious development of the Cutler-Williams connection.
‘‘The more you play with someone, the better off you are,’’ Williams said Thursday at Halas Hall. ‘‘With Jay, it’s going to take a little time. It’s slow going up. It’s not going to go down; it’s going to go up.’’
Let the record show Williams takes the blame for the lack of chemistry with Cutler. After a slow start — six receptions for 81 yards and no touchdowns in his first four games — Williams has 13 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown this season.
Williams admitted it has taken him some time to grasp offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s system, even though he learned it when they were together with the Detroit Lions a few seasons back.
‘‘It was just certain pass routes: ‘What I got?’ ’’ Williams said. ‘‘And [Cutler] was like, ‘You got this such and such.’ And I’m like, ‘‘All right, my bad.’ ’’
The way Williams tells it, it sounded as though Cutler was getting frustrated.
‘‘Yeah, I was getting frustrated, too,’’ Williams said. ‘‘This is Week 7 or 8 — I shouldn’t be asking those questions. I was like, ‘OK, I have to be a pro and do what I need to do to get the ball.’ ’’
With productive games against the Minnesota Vikings (three receptions for 50 yards) and the Bucs (four receptions for 59 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown), indications are that Williams is getting it.
‘‘Oh, yeah, I’m getting there,’’ Williams said. ‘‘It’s a process for me. I know Jay’s probably happy I’m not asking, ‘What do I got on this play?’ I’ve eliminated that. Everything is just starting to go back to how I felt in Detroit. . . . It’s good — now.’’
There’s still a long way to go. It’s going to take Cutler time to warm up to Williams as a go-to receiver. That’s part of the process, too. Asked about how important Williams will be Monday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Cutler didn’t bite.
‘‘All those guys are going to be important,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘I’m not going to single out Roy against anybody, and we’re not going to single out any of those receivers. They’ve all got to play at a certain level, and we expect them to go out there on Monday and give it everything they’ve got.’’