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SportsMonday: Immature Bears Test Brass

Whew but folks love to slam the Bears offensive line.

And with a shaky left side in particular, it is clearly a stretch at this point to classify this team as a prime championship contender.

But it says here the Bears are still plenty good enough to make the playoffs. It also says here that the people who are convinced the Bears can't possibly succeed with the line struggling like it has are forgetting their recent history.

It is also easy at this point to condemn the Bears to decrepitude because the quarterback still has maturity issues. Still! And while there is no denying that Jay Cutler's tantrum on national TV last week was tremendously disappointing, there is also the fact that he has bounced back from this sort of thing before.

Do folks remember who was playing left tackle for the Bears last season when they won five games in a row to run their record to 7-3, one of the best in football at that point? It was J'Marcus Webb. And of course Jay Cutler then broke his thumb and the season went downhill like an out-of-control freight train exiting the Rocky Mountains.

On the other hand, there is no denying that Webb hasn't progressed as quickly as anyone would like. Some have condemned him for spending too much time tweeting and not enough time adopting the serious aura of a man who is manfully dedicated to perfecting absolutely every detail of his chosen craft.

The tweeting doesn't matter. Neither do Webb's sometimes almost whimsical public statements. What matters is whether Webb can block Clay Matthews and last Thursday he failed miserably.

Is it reasonable to believe he can improve enough in time for the Bears' second regular-season match-up with the team from Green Bay to be something less than a disaster?

If he's still the starter this week it will indicate that offensive coordinator Mike Tice, to whom I would almost always defer regarding offensive line issues, believes he can.

Or he believes that Webb is his best of a bad group of options, which almost certainly means former first-round pick Chris Williams is officially a massive bust, by the way.

As for the quarterback, wait a minute, I have decided there has officially been enough written about Cutler's setback against the Pack. Let's just say that going forward he has yet another opportunity to be the leader the Bears need him to be. It would be great if he would at least take responsibility for his crappy play against Green Bay at some point this week, but I'm not holding my breath.

I will say, though, that it has become clear in the past few days that Cutler will not receive an endless number of such opportunities. My guess is that the Bear brass is officially becoming tired of his inability to control himself at critical junctures. And he is remarkably good at saving his worst behavior for high-profile games.

The question is whether that has occurred to Cutler. There are big financial ramifications as well. If the quarterback can pull himself together like he did two years ago, when he overcame an almost disastrous first half of the season to lead the Bears to the conference final, there will almost certainly be a huge contract extension awaiting him next off-season.

If not, well, guys who act like Cutler certainly are a big hit on reality shows these days. And given his baby mama's history on The Hills, surely VH-1 or whoever else will be lining up to film this couple's every move sometime soon. They could call it Jay and Kristin are Free Agents . . .

Sox Pox
The White Sox may end up winning the American League Central Division title but if they don't win this afternoon it will feel more like the Tigers lost it. A setback this afternoon would give them six losses in their final seven games against the team from the Motor City this season.

The make-up game with the Tigers marks the last chance for the South Siders to assert that they are at least the equal of the team that has emerged as their biggest rivals of late. They will still lead their division by a game if they lose to Detroit one final time but clearly a division championship won't be as triumphant if the White Sox can't at least look back at splitting the final four games with the Tigers at home.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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