Cutler and other prominent figures in organization know jobs are on line
Jay Cutler passes during 4th quarter of 17-14 loss to Washington. (Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / October 24, 2010)
By Brad Biggs, Tribune Reporter 8:04 p.m. CDT, November 3, 2010
Along with some self-scouting, the off week provided Jay Cutler with an opportunity to reflect on something he acknowledged before the season started: Jobs are on the line.
With nine games remaining, the 4-3 Bears are preparing for a game Sunday against the 0-7 Bills in Toronto that begins a two-month stretch that could define the future of the organization for years to come. It's pure delusion to think it's anything but win-or-else for the franchise's key figures.
Does Cutler still keep the big picture in the back of his mind as the Bears look to rally in the imminently winnable NFC North?
"I think everyone does," he said. "I think the whole locker room understands what the position is with the coaches and some of the players and myself. We're all in the same boat. We're all in it together and we have to get it done."
It's not like Cutler, who signed a $50 million contract extension with $20 million guaranteed 13 months ago, is in danger. But he's mindful of what lies ahead for the Bears, who will play three games in 12 days starting Sunday. They are one of eight teams in the NFC with a winning record and are in a position where they control their own destiny.
But after two months of talking about doing the little things, and needing 11 players to make a play work, they have to do it. The Packers (5-3) appear to have weathered significant injuries that have 10 players on injured reserve, five of them starters. The Bears changed their identity as a franchise when they acquired Cutler 19 months ago, and they changed even more when offensive coordinator Mike Martz was hired. It was in the name of a quick fix, though.
"There are flashes on film of us doing everything right and things going accordingly," Cutler said. "And then there are other things where there is just one little breakdown."
Martz is the latest to beat the drum for a running game. He also has made adjustments. The Bears didn't use a seven-step drop in their last game against the Redskins. The offense was effective moving the ball in the second half, but done in by the avalanche of turnovers. That's a positive the team is promoting.
"We're trying to stay equal (running and passing), not lean on one side too heavily because you're going to need to lean on one side or the other to win a game eventually," Martz said. "So we're trying to keep both of them elevated. We have issues that we're trying to clean up in both areas."
If you couldn't find the standings and you just went off what you heard in the locker room, you would figure the Bears were running into an AFC contender at the Rogers Centre. The Bears are talking up the Bills in a big way, but the reality is every opponent is moving the ball nearly at will against them.
"They're in a situation with their record and their season that they're probably going to try anything," Cutler said.
The Bears are also in a situation where they're willing to try about anything. Coach Lovie Smith says the team is primed for a run. There certainly is plenty at stake. Just ask Cutler.