RedEye

Uh-oh: Cutler can't block out questions about blocking

Jay Cutler was speaking honestly. Maybe that’s why it was so jarring.

On the first “Jay Day’’ of the regular season, Cutler stepped to the podium at Halas Hall on Wednesday and said, yeah, the Bears have all kinds of shiny new toys, but they won’t mean squat if the line can’t block.

“We have some guys who can play on the outside,’’ Cutler said. “There is no doubt about that. Hopefully, it’s going to make my job easier just being able to get them the ball and let them work. Up front the guys know there is some pressure on them because Matt Forte can run if we give him holes, and if I get the guys the ball on the outside and we hold up and have time, we can make some big plays.’’

You can’t blame Cutler for continuing to shine the harsh klieg light on the line, especially when you consider the first two games of the season. The Bears ought to beat the Colts, but Indianapolis is converting to a version of the 3-4 defense. The Packers, meanwhile, already have won a Super Bowl with a 3-4 defense. The Bears have long had trouble blocking the 3-4 defense.

I’d come to believe the Bears’ biggest concern was the defensive line’s inability to get to the quarterback. Julius Peppers can play, sure. He’s a Hall of Famer. The rest of them? Not even a faint whiff of consistent pressure. The more double- and triple-teams for Peppers, the more the rest of them get exposed as impotent.

But Cutler’s focus on the offensive line is making me rethink my biggest worry about a team I’ve picked to go 16-0.

What were they doing for five weeks and four practice games during training camp?

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it sounds as if J’Marcus Webb at left tackle and Chris Spencer at left guard were the lesser of several evils. That’s Cutler’s blind side, and if that’s the way it came down -- players “winning’’ a spot because the competition was inept or absent -- then I think we all understand why the quarterback continues to make it an issue. You’d do the same thing if you faced dismemberment every play.

But wait. There’s more. Offensive coordinator and line maestro Mike Tice issued a surprising warning about the health of right tackle Gabe Carimi, Tice said Carimi isn’t at full speed in his comeback from a knee injury that ended his 2011 season in Week 2. Oh, and Tice said Carimi’s endurance in his leg will take time.

As if the left side wasn’t enough for Cutler to worry about.

The linemen know there is pressure on them, and if they didn’t know it, their quarterback just reminded them. What Cutler said was true, which is exactly what makes it so jarring when it comes out of a Lovie Smith-coached team.

It recalls what Cutler said several months ago when questioning whether both tackle spots and left guard would be filled adequately, or at least sorted out to some professional degree.

Whether he was calling out his blockers or challenging his linemen, then or now, Cutler was at least admitting he saw and feared the same thing we did. He ought to tell his head coach, who speaks as if he lives in a bubble where coddling is the one sustainable food source.

Smith’s lame dismissal of statistics revealing that Webb was the worst starting left tackle in the league was an insult to Bears fans’ intelligence. Maybe Smith doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as “Bears fans’ intelligence.’’

Smith’s arrogance and public blind defense of his roster is a big reason players love him. A coach providing that kind of cover in the face of something obviously embarrassing is said to be a big reason the Bears play hard for Smith.

But here’s the problem with that: It’s not about the offensive linemen playing hard, it’s about their playing well.

Cutler knows it. But he sounds worried. Uh-oh.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Byrne Interchange work: Get ready for traffic heartburn

    Byrne Interchange work: Get ready for traffic heartburn

    The heavy lifting will begin this month on the overhaul of the Byrne Interchange near downtown Chicago, leading to anticipated expressway traffic tie-ups mostly over four weekends stretching into the fall, officials will announce Monday.

  • The best performances of Lolla 2015

    The best performances of Lolla 2015

    We saw a lot of great shows this weekend, but these were the best of the best. It’s gotta be Paul McCartney for me. The man is a legend and seriously an amazing performer who knows how to give the people what they want. Lolla wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Paul, and I really hope it won’t be my...

  • 3 dead, 37 wounded in weekend shootings

    3 dead, 37 wounded in weekend shootings

    Shootings across Chicago left three dead and 37 wounded over the weekend, including a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy who were injured in separate shootings about five minutes apart Sunday evening.

  • Lolla day 3: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 3: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Somehow, Lolla’s all over already. This is what we loved and didn’t enjoy quite as much from day 3. Best: I gotta give it to Florence and the Machine. Seems like an obvious choice, but she was just so fun and engaged with the crowd (and the storms). Even her songs I wasn’t familiar with were exciting...

  • Red carpet report: 'The End of the Tour'

    Red carpet report: 'The End of the Tour'

    This past January I was lucky enough to be on the red carpet before the Sundance premiere of “The End of the Tour,” which opens Friday in Chicago and stars Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky, the journalist interviewing Wallace as they travel during the last...

  • Under Clubber: Porn and Chicken Monday

    Under Clubber: Porn and Chicken Monday

    We only have one pair of shoes—dancing shoes—which means they certainly aren’t reserved for weekends only. Said shoes sent us questing after places to boogie down every night of the work week (after all, one person’s Monday is another’s Saturday). What we found were five parties, recurring Sunday...

Comments
Loading
81°