LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Just in case Jay Cutler needed it, Brandon Marshall was there for support.
He insisted the Chicago Bears still believe in their quarterback and are ready to move on from a tough loss. They host the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and will try to put what happened last week behind them.
The Bears (1-1) turned in a dud, losing 23-10 at Green Bay in a Thursday night game after opening with a lopsided win over Indianapolis, and that barely scratches the surface. Cutler got sacked seven times and he let left tackle J’Marcus Webb have it on the sideline, berating and bumping him in front of the TV cameras.
He then made some pointed comments after the game, and it all added up to this — those familiar questions about his demeanor. In one night, Cutler seemed to wipe out the good will he earned last season, when he performed well despite taking a pounding in Mike Martz’s system. Analysts Troy Aikman and Bill Cowher, not to mention teammate and fellow Vanderbilt product D.J. Moore, weighed in and they weren’t exactly throwing praise his way.
Leave it to Marshall to do just that. He insisted Cutler didn’t lose the locker room, that teammates still believe in him.
“They do. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Marshall said. “The guys love Jay. Defensive guys to the offensive guys to the coaches, so, Jay is a guy that everyone wants to play for, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
That Marshall defended Cutler is hardly a surprise, given their history together in Denver. Now, they’re reunited, and the Bears are eyeing big things after acquiring the Pro Bowl receiver from Miami.
And for what it’s worth, Cutler, insisted, “The sky is not falling quite yet.”
It just seemed that way for the offense last week.
Now, here come the Rams (1-1), a team that’s already one win from matching last year’s total. They, too, have issues on the offensive line, but unlike Cutler, Sam Bradford didn’t take a pounding last week.
He got sacked twice last week but really wasn’t hit much while throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 win over Washington. Danny Amendola caught 15 of those passes, tying a team record, and wound up with 160 yards receiving, while the Rams were 7 for 12 on third-down conversions
Not bad, given the state of St. Louis’ offensive line.
The only projected starter still at his position is guard Harvey Dahl, thanks to a run of injuries. Center Scott Wells (broken foot), tackle Rodger Saffold (right knee MCL sprain), guard Rokevious Watkins (ankle) are all out, with Wells on short-term injured reserve until the second half and Watkins on injured reserve. Guard Quinn Ojinnaka was released Sept. 2, re-signed Sept. 11 and started last week.
Despite all that, Bradford is not just standing. He’s standing tall at the moment.
“He has a good feel for what we’re doing offensively,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “(Offensive coordinator Brian) Schotteheimer and he have spent a lot of time together. Sam’s a talented quarterback and he’s got a really, really good future ahead of him.”
And the Rams are at least showing some promise at 1-1.
“I don’t think it’s the light at the end of the tunnel,” defensive end Chris Long said. “I kind of think it’s the beginning for us. Anybody who’s been fortunate enough to stick it and be here with these coaches and this group of guys in this room, it’s kind of a beginning. Anything that happened in the past doesn’t really matter. Now it’s time to go and try to build our own legacy.”
For the Bears, what happened last week on offense was jarring.
No quarterback took a bigger beating the previous two seasons than Cutler, who was sacked 75 times, but for all the moves new general manager Phil Emery made in the offseason, he did not address the tackle positions. The Bears pointed to the return of right tackle Gabe Carimi after he missed most of his rookie season because of a knee injury and counted on improvement from within. They also believed there would be fewer sacks with Mike Tice calling more three- and five-step drops than the seven-set drops Martz liked to use, but the results so far were mixed.
After a promising opener, the offense bombed against the Packers. And they face another tough pass-rusher this week in Chris Long .
The Bears are now second in sacks allowed with nine, trailing only Cincinnati (10) in that category, but Webb will get another start. Chris Spencer won’t this week, with Chilo Rachal getting the nod at left guard in his place in an effort to help Cutler.
Another issue for the Bears is Matt Forte. The Pro Bowl running back’s status is in question after he left last week’s game with a sprained right ankle. If he can’t go, Michael Bush becomes the primary ballcarrier, and the Bears need to get Marshall involved after he caught just two passes for 24 yards and dropped a potential TD.
More than anything, they need to put last week’s mess behind them.
“We had a tough loss and we can’t hang our heads,” Marshall said. “When we win on Sunday or the next Sunday after that and the Sunday after that, we can’t get too high. We’ve just got to stay balanced and stay focused.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.