Jay Cutler's absence shows Bears' problem is offensive line
It's the oline guys. Not the defense. Not our 2nd string QB. That is laughable. It's the oline. It's a terminal cancer that is going to kill our 2012 season.
LINK to the article Jay Cutler's absence shows Bears' problem is the offensive line I have always loved Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. I'm a huge fan, regardless of what happens during the game, the facial expressions he makes, how he handles his teammates, or -- most of all -- how others interpret his body language. And given the way Chicago's offense performed without him against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, Bears faithful should follow my lead -- because without Cutler, the Bears are not a playoff team.
For the second year in a row, an injury to Cutler has sparked a Bears losing streak. Last season, many felt the Bears went into a tailspin sans Cutler because of inexperience at the backup quarterback position (Caleb Hanie struggled in Cutler's place) and because of former offensive coordinator Mike Martz's philosophy. In the offseason, the Bears set out to fix both issues, promoting offensive line coach Mike Tice to replace the departed Martz and signing veteran backup Jason Campbell. However, Monday's game showed that neither the backup nor the coordinator were the Bears' real problem. Their real problem was -- and continues to be -- the offensive line, regardless of who's calling plays or who's under center (unless, of course, his name is Jay Cutler). Face it,Bears fans; your offensive line stinks. The Bears' line was bad last season. The team didn't make any significant personnel changes up front, so it's bad once again this year. Bears coaches can try to switch the play calls and hide the problem, but schemes will not save them against good opponents.
On Monday night, against the 49ers' dominating defensive front, the Bears were exposed. J'Marcus Webb is not a real left tackle; he always needs help in pass protection. Former first-round pick Gabe Carimi has not been impressive at right tackle. Inside at guard, the Bears are relying on Chilo Rachal -- who couldn't handle the starting job for the 49ers last season. The Bears are not solid at a single position on the line. Each week, their coaches have to scheme around the lack of talent in an attempt to protect the passer -- which is hard to do, depending on the matchups.
If the Bears hadn't fallen behind early on Monday, Campbell might have had a chance. But with 49ersquarterback Colin Kaepernick doing his best Joe Montana impression, Campbell had no shot. The49ers were so dominant, it occurred to me that even if San Francisco decided to play defense with just 10 men, the Bears still would have struggled to score more than 10 points.
The Bears' line will still be bad when Cutler returns. The uniquely tough and talented Cutler seems to be the only quarterback who can work around that line and still make plays. But imagine how good he would be if Chicago's offensive line was more like San Francisco's, if he had the kind of protection that allowed him to scan the field and make throws. Yes, Cutler would still take chances with the ball, but he'd also make plays and turn the Bears' offense into a feared unit.
(By the way, all quarterbacks have to take some chances. Interceptions are a part of the game, and signal-callers who want to win a Super Bowl have to be willing to go for tight throws. No one in the NFL right now takes more chances than Indianapolis Colts rookie Andrew Luck, who is not shy about throwing into a crowd and letting his receivers make plays. But while Luck is applauded for his aggressiveness, if Cutler attempted some of those same throws, he'd be ripped for his supposed carelessness. There is a fine line between taking chances and being careless; most blue-chip quarterbacks understand this delicate balance.) Monday night's game should have hammered home the lesson that theBears' core issue is their offensive line, and until they fix it, they'll never be able to beat the better teams in the NFC, like the 49ers, New York Giants or Green Bay Packers. The Bears also should have learned that regardless of how well their defense plays, there will always be teams with the firepower to attack their scheme and out-score their offense.
Chicago must fix this problem quickly. The Bears cannot wait another offseason to find five linemen who can win in the playoffs. Because of the age of their defense, the Bears' window is closing. If they can't improve their line, it might shut on them.
They often say that in love, absence makes the heart grow fonder. The same might be said of Cutler and Bears fans, who must love him even more after Monday night.