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SportsWednesday: Cutler Conundrum Kills Bears

What kills me the most about the Bears - and there are many nominees - is all the stuff they have done in deference to Jay Cutler in the past year, i.e., in deference to the quarterback who led them to a thrilling 6-10 finish last year. This is also the quarterback who is less annoying than he used to be but still struggles mightily to avoid fits of pique and to lead teammates well, if at all.

First, there was this year's offensive coordinator search: oh wait, there was none. When Adam Gase moved on, the Bears had two choices, A) Do a comprehensive survey and bring in the best offensive mind they could find or B) Make the comfortable hire from within the organization who would appease the quarterback.

They chose B and will almost certainly come to regret it. Again, Cutler was better last year with Gase at the helm but oftentimes even at his best he was just good enough to lose.

The Bears hired Dowell Loggains apparently in the belief that Cutler would be their quarterback for at least two or three more years and that making him happy was the key to offensive success for the foreseeable future.

Now of course Bears fans are looking at the end of this season with longing. Cutler will still be under contract but the team will no longer face an onerous salary cap hit (it would have been double-digit millions the past few years) if they dump him. It sure doesn't seem like it was a good call to hire an OC based solely on his connection with a quarterback who people have suddenly remembered isn't good enough. And no, this is not just hindsight - I made this point at the time of the hire.

Second, the refusal to draft a quarterback - this one really boils my blood. Have you been following what has happened this year with the Patriots? Tom Brady gets suspended so in comes back up Jimmy Garoppolo (the pride of Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows!).

The Patriots had drafted him in the second round in 2014 despite the fact they already had a quarterback who had won, you know, multiple Super Bowls.

Then Garoppolo goes down last week and the Patriots are really in trouble. Except wait a minute, they spent a third-round pick earlier this year drafting another backup quarterback, Jacoby Brissett out of North Carolina State. Brissett comes in, executes a very conservative game plan, and the Patriots win again. Brissett starts Thursday night in place of the still-injured Garoppolo. That was no fluke, but part of the Patriots' process:

Meanwhile, the Bears, who have not had Tom Brady on their roster:

Just last spring, the Bears decided not to use one of their three fourth-round picks to take Mississippi State product Dak Prescott, who has led the Cowboys to a 2-0 record so far in relief of Tony Romo. The Cowboys, whom the Bears face next, drafted Prescott after the Bears had made their sixth overall selection.

Part of the Bears' refusal to draft a serious QB prospect (David Fales in the 6th round of the 2014 draft notwithstanding) in the Cutler era has been the fear that Cutler would not react well to having a rival around. How can an organization be so short-sighted?

There has also been chatter that the quarterback the Bears really loved was Michigan State's Connor Cook, and that if he had been available when the Bears picked in the fourth or fifth rounds, they would have snapped him up.

Connor Cook? I guess I missed the Michigan State game last year where he lit up the sky with accurately thrown medium and deep balls while leading the Spartans to a high-scoring victory. But hey, I know he was a decent prospect and he was the seventh quarterback selected overall, by the Raiders. And he was taken before the Bears made their first pick in the fourth round in the spring.

Third, the lame Bears game plans that cater to Cutler's uncomfortableness with basic elements of football strategy like play-action passing. This one is self-explanatory. The Bears offense has been brutally predictable so far. Whether it is more Loggains' or Cutler's fault doesn't matter.

But wait, word has leaked out of Halas Hall, which guards info about injuries like the Democratic Party guards political strategy - er, I guess the Bears guard their info even more rabidly - that Cutler actually hurt his throwing thumb in the first game and played the entire contest against the Eagles with difficulty. That would potentially absolve him of at least part of the blame for the strip-sack fumble that wasn't actually stripped, and the brutal, game-changing interception.

Something tells me that unless that thumb heals quickly and Cutler leads the Bears on a surprising win streak before the first half of this season ends, virtually no Bears fan will be satisfied. That is especially the case since they have to watch 30-year-old Brian Hoyer at the helm in the near future rather than a young passer who would actually have a chance to improve going forward.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Oct 11, 2021