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A lot of crap was written last week about how the Bears should consider using the franchise tag on Jay Cutler, thereby signing him to a contract that would pay him more than $16 million for the 2014 season alone. Come on! (And please believe me when I say I was saying that even before the debacle in Philly).
Questions abound about whether Cutler can stay healthy enough to lead a team to a championship and whether he is simply good enough to do so, and they have been out there way before the Bears embarrassed themselves 11-54 last night (I'm using the backwards score kind of the same way the military uses an upside down flag - to signal extreme distress).
Here's one element of his game that drives me nuts: His internal clock still isn't good enough. The Bear offensive line didn't have a good enough night last night but several of those sacks were Cutler's fault. He has to have a better idea of when he has run out of time, i.e., when he needs to just throw the ball away. His poor timing also leads to his taking more hits with more force.
Here's another: Cutler sucks on checkdowns. He almost never manages to get the ball to Matt Forte on underneath routes on time, i.e., by the time way too many of his passes get to Forte, the defense is all over him.
This is not to say that Cutler definitely isn't the Bears quarterback of the future. He may be, and as we pointed out last week, there are signs that he has improved his attitude at least a little this year. But if he won't agree to a reasonable contract that takes into account the fact that he would be lucky to have a chance to play for Marc Trestman next year, then Let. Him. Go.
If he is re-signed, he better prepare himself for the toughest off-season of his life. He has to get a lot better and he has to be in the best shape of his life going into next year.
Speaking of Forte, brutal effort on the safety. The guy swatted him on the knee and Forte went down as easy as a back can go down. More on the safety: it was OK that Trestman called a run with the Bears facing first-and-10 on their own three. It was not OK that everyone in the stadium knew the Bears were going to run the ball.
Trestman has obviously been coaching offense well forever but he could learn some things from Chip Kelly about designing more deceptive plays.
And back to Forte one final time: He might have had his worst night as a Bear in pass protection. His missed blocks led directly to several Eagle sacks and hurries.
There was a fascinating juxtaposition early in the game. Forte failed miserably to stand up to Eagle linebacker Trent Cole. Cole blew through him for an early sack. During the next Eagles possession, an Eagle back not only easily blocked Bear defensive end Shea McClellin, he guided him exactly where he wanted him to go, to the inside, opening a wide open lane to the outside for a double-digit Nick Foles run.
McClellin stinks at end. If the Bears don't move him to linebacker in the off-season, they will be putting his career in jeopardy.
At the other end of the Bears defensive line, might we be watching the final days of Julius Peppers in midnight blue and orange? He is not close to worth what he's being paid this season and he is scheduled to make even more next year. There needs to be some concrete reason to believe improvement is possible next year if the Bears are going to continue to allow for the massive hit his salary delivers against the cap. There is a joke to be made here about relative strengths of hits but I think I'll pass.
As for the rest of the defense, well, not only do the Bears need to find another linebacker or three in the off-season, they need to find some guys who can blitz. And that probably involves finding a better, run-defense supporting safety than they have had a long while. Even if Lance Briggs comes back for another go-round, and it seemed clear last night that even though he was rusty he was still the best Bear LB, he has never been a very good blitzer.
Bears fans found Sunday night's game infuriating. Hey Bears, did you? Do you think you might manage to put together a few angry practices this coming week and perhaps be a bit pissed off when you take the field against the Packers?
And hey Mr. Starting Quarterback, that starts with you.
* Mitchell: Briggs' Return Fails To Save Bears Defense.
By virtue of the NFL's complex playoff formula, the Lions are allowed back in if the Bears fake more than three Jeffery end-arounds tonight.— Beachwood Reporter (@BeachwoodReport) December 23, 2013
Bears need to put McCown in second half !!! This Cutler is a clown!— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) December 23, 2013
Ahhh sorry bear fans. I'm a bears fan too. Line stinks yes but cutler is more arrogant than I was in my prime. He doesn't care about u guys— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) December 23, 2013
@BarryRozner NBC flexes to Seinfeld reruns at half tonight— mike_sharo (@mike_sharo) December 23, 2013
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