CHICAGO (AP) — What was it that people were saying about the Chicago Bears’ new and improved offense?
Things sure looked familiar Thursday night, with Jay Cutler getting knocked around like a human tackling dummy in a 23-10 loss at Green Bay that left him venting afterward.
Considering he got sacked seven times, it’s not hard to see why.
“When he’s getting hit that many times, that’s on the O-line, so we have to do a better job protecting Jay and giving him more time,” right tackle Gabe Carimi said.
Besides the beating Cutler took, there’s also some concern about running back Matt Forte after he left the game with a right ankle injury. The Bears had no update and agent Adisa Bakari declined comment Friday, although several outlets reported he has a high ankle sprain.
As for Cutler, this ranked among the worst beatings of his career. Only once had he been sacked so many times, and that was the debacle at the Meadowlands in 2010, when the Giants got him nine times in the first half and knocked him out of the game with a concussion.
He was sacked on the Bears’ first snap from scrimmage for the second straight week, this time for 13 yards when Forte blew a block, but the hits came in different ways.
At times, Cutler held onto the ball too long. Other times, it was simply bad blocking.
J’Marcus Webb had a particularly tough time at left tackle, with Clay Matthews going off for 3½ sacks, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll now be on a short rope. The Bears could turn to Chris Williams or newly signed Jonathan Scott, depending on how quickly he grasps the offense.
“I got myself into trouble not using my hands, not moving my feet at times, and it showed,” Webb said.
Things were so bad for Webb that the TV camera caught Cutler berating him on the sideline and bumping him at one point, and the quarterback didn’t back off after the game. He said the outburst was simply a product of his desire to win and that if the Bears “want a quarterback that doesn’t care, they can get somebody else.” He also said he’s not going to “act like everything’s OK.”
It certainly wasn’t for the Bears. A promising opener against Indianapolis simply got washed away in Green Bay.
Besides all those sacks, Cutler threw four interceptions and was 11 for 27 for 126 yards. Brandon Marshall had just two catches for 24 yards and dropped a potential touchdown. Forte went to the locker room midway through the third quarter after he appeared to twist his right ankle while being tackled by Charles Woodson, and unlike the opener, the offense never found a rhythm after the slow start.
It certainly wasn’t the sort of performance the Bears envisioned after a busy offseason. They’re aiming high after being hit hard by injuries in an 8-8 season, and the revamped offense is a big reason why.
The trade with Miami for Marshall sent expectations soaring. After all, it gave Cutler a go-to receiver for the first time in Chicago and reunited him with his old friend from Denver.
They also added depth in other areas, bringing in Michael Bush to team with Forte in the backfield. But the offensive line was largely untouched.
The Bears are counting on improvement from within and a scheme they believe better fits the personnel to overcome the deficiencies in the blocking game now that Mike Martz is gone. Mike Tice was promoted from line coach to replace him as coordinator.
The question is: Can the Bears protect Cutler against a team with a top pass rusher? Their next game is at home against St. Louis, and then they face DeMarcus Ware when they visit Dallas.
“We’re definitely as good as we think we are,” Marshall said. “But offensively, we’ve got to do a better job. Defense made some great plays, gave us the ball back a few times. We’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities and we didn’t tonight.
“That’s a great team over there. It’s the team we’re chasing. They won the Super Bowl two years ago, so it’s going to take more than just walking on the field to dethrone them.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)