RedEye

Who fills the Urlacher void? Cutler, that's who

If Brian Urlacher can’t play this season, then Jay Cutler ends up with even more pressure, and I’m not talking about another missed block by J’Marcus Webb.

This Bears offseason was all about the offense. I mean, just look:

Cutler was freed from the crazy warden Mike Martz, happily working with an offensive coordinator who has this newfangled concept called an audible.

Cutler welcomed a quarterbacks coach with whom he worked in Denver when he went to the Pro Bowl.

Cutler renewed acquaintances and fade routes with the best receiver he’s ever targeted.

Cutler found a backup running back who could start but certainly is big enough to finish the things that Matt Forte never has.

Cutler also got a big rookie receiver that properly slots the rest of the receivers who should’ve been in the slot to start with.

Do the math, and this could be the explosive passing offense the Bears have never seen unless Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre or Tom Brady was choreographing it against Lovie Smith’s defense. This could be the best attack the Bears have ever had.

And if Urlacher misses the season, it will have to be. Same deal even if Urlacher misses only a big chunk of it. The same would go for Julius Peppers, too, if he had ligament problems and missed practices.

Look, the Bears have struggled to beat the Packers with Urlacher and Peppers healthy and active, so imagine how the middle of the field would look to Rodgers with somebody in Urlacher’s spot. Smith’s beloved Tampa-2 base scheme doesn’t work without a pass rush and a game-changing safety, but it also has major problems without Urlacher running 40 yards downfield.

Forget the scheme and all the football-ly stuff. The Bears have lost about two-thirds of the games without Urlacher. Uh and oh.

That’s why the focus isn’t so much on middle linebacker replacement Nick Roach but Cutler. It’s bigger than a backup, no matter how smart and game Roach is.

Cutler has taken ownership of the offense and now has what with to make it work. That’s what all the excitement in the offseason has been about. That’s why I have them going 16-0. The Red Zone Channel won’t be enough. Try the feed from NASA.

But Cutler now might face have to be perfect from the start because one way or another, the offense will have to cover the defense’s shortcomings. That’s a role reversal that will take some getting used to. It has been the other way around for, I don’t know, forever, or at least since Super Bowl XX. The defense has been forced to save the offense. It has not been enough. The defense has been valiant if not brilliant, but the prehistoric front office never got it.

Until now. Finally. And just in time.

Even if Urlacher doesn’t miss a lot of time, and even if the stars of the defense stay healthy, this remains a unit with aging playmakers and inexperienced guesses. It was going to need help, perhaps as soon as this season, and now perhaps it will need more help from the offense than anyone expected.

But here’s the thing: It’s not that Cutler will feel more pressure and it’s not that his offense will experience demands it has never known, it’s that this Bears offense amazingly looks armed to accomplish that and more.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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