LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Maybe Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler won’t be shoving his offensive linemen around if they get better at shoving around opposing defenses.
Cutler has been criticized for shoving tackle J’Marcus Webb during the team’s 23-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers last week. After all, the Bears were supposed to have finally solved the problem of keeping Cutler upright after he had been sacked more than any other quarterback over the previous two seasons (75 times).
After two games, the Bears are second in sacks allowed with nine, including seven by the Packers. Only Cincinnati (10) has allowed more.
“We don’t expect our players to grade out 100 percent,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. “I’ve coached some great linemen, I’ve coached a guy that’s in the Hall of Fame. He never graded at 100 percent. We don’t expect that. But we also expect better results than we’ve had.”
The Bears did nothing to improve their tackle positions in the offseason, preferring to address wide receiver with the trade for Brandon Marshall and the pass rush by drafting Shea McClellin in the first round. They expected to get better from within with right tackle Gabe Carimi returning in a scheme that relies on shorter three-step and five-step drops by Cutler rather than the seven-step drops used under Mike Martz.
Last week it didn’t work.
Still, Cutler said he has complete confidence the Bears can get Chris Long and other pass rushers blocked when they play the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Soldier Field.
“You can’t be watching the line, you can’t be guessing, ‘Maybe they’ll block this play,’ because you are not going to be very successful doing that,” Cutler said. “So, each play you’ve got to believe in them, you’ve got to trust them and you’ve got to do your job. For me to be successful in my job, I’ve got to have faith in him and I’ve got to believe each week he is going to do his part and it’s going to allow me to do mine.”
Tice called Webb’s struggles unusual against the Packers, and pointed out “in the five games he’s played against Green Bay, he’s fared pretty well. And he also came off with a pretty decent performance the week before (against Indianapolis) where I had people texting me and talking about, ‘does he get the game ball?’
“We’ll see how he bounces back. We’ll see how we all bounce back.”
The Bears are going to stand pat at left tackle against the Rams, although the same is not true at left guard. To help Cutler, Tice has moved former San Francisco 49er Chilo Rachal into the starting left guard slot in place of Chris Spencer. Rachal started right guard 38 games for the 49ers before being benched.
“It made me hungrier, but also humbled me,” Rachal said. “From me being a starter to having to take a seat, it just gave me a different perspective of the game and learning it in the classroom as a student. But also, I’m hungry — beyond hungry. I think hungry is an understatement.”
As for Cutler’s shove of Webb, the quarterback insisted the team has put it in the past after he addressed linemen about it individually.
“Everything is fine. It is a dead issue,” he said. “You know, we’re moving forward at this point.”
Carimi saw the incident occur and called it a non-issue from the start.
“Honestly it was barely a shove, so I don’t think I would have even recognized it until it was brought up on media,” he said.
The 2016 Chicago Football Classic celebrated a weekend of festivities including the kick-off reception of the President's Reception on Thursday at the South Shore Cultural Center leading to the game on Saturday, September 10 at Soldiers Field.
Clark Atlanta University vs. Central State University premiered on the green field as various dignitaries, community leaders, sponsors and fans enjoyed the game on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.
Here's some key photo highlights to enjoy from live entertainment, scholarship presentations, the pre-game high school bands, football play and the traditional suite hopping.