The Bears In A Body Bag

By George Ofman

The man in the middle is now the man on the outside looking in. This is not good if you're Brian Urlacher. It's much worse if you're the Chicago Bears and perhaps even worse if you're a Chicago Bears fan.

Coping with Jay Cutler's curtain-raising horror show in Green Bay is one thing. Dealing with the loss for the season of the team's middle linebacker and maybe its best defender is another.

Not only did the Bears lose the face of its defense for 2009, it also lost another starting linebacker, Pisa Tinoisamoa, which spelled backwards is eye chart.

And Dez Clark took a back beating.

Curtain closed?

Doesn't "wait until next year" belong to the Cubs?

And we haven't even gotten to Cutler's erratic escapade yet.

It might be a bit presumptuous to declare that the Bears season has gone down one of our city's deepest potholes. Their schedule remains one of the easiest in the league. And while he may have thrown four interceptions in his first effort, Cutler remains a very important cog in this team's future, immediate and beyond.

But a dislocated wrist has discombobulated the Bears for the moment. Urlacher had a very strong training camp and optimism abounded that he would be far more than a shell of his better days. Now he's been rendered useless for the year. In less time than you can say find me another linebacker, Urlacher underwent surgery to repair the damage. And remember, Tinoisamoa might be gone for several weeks.

And Clark could be rehabbing.

And Trumaine McBride, a solid special teams player, suffered a knee injury.

This wasn't just a defeat to the Bear's longtime rivals. This was a body bag being hauled back to Lake Forest.

I wonder what the deductible is on the team's health insurance policy.

Now Jerry Angelo may have to look outside the organization for help.

Derrick Brooks?

Remember, 911 is an option, not a necessity.

But the Bears will need to find more than just a player to replace Urlacher. Leadership isn't found on waiver wires. And Brooks is 36 and out of football.

Is he really the solution or simply a plug for the dyke?

Move Lance Briggs to the middle? He's not comfortable playing there and two wrongs don't make a right.

Hunter Hillenmeyer and Nick Roach? This is called depth, but it's not very deep.

The Bears did wind up signing linebacker Tim Shaw, who has appeared in only 17 NFL games.

Not to worry Chicken Little, the sky isn't falling; it's just a little dark around the edges.

And speaking of dark around the edges, wasn't the franchise savior supposed to save the franchise? Wasn't Jay Cutler supposed to sling touchdown passes instead of passes being touched and caught by the opposition?

Well, at least he came out of this game in one piece, albeit a somewhat tattered one. Cutler should have been intercepted at least a half dozen times. Four doesn't exactly temper the skeptics.

It was brutal. There's no other way to describe it. Cutler called it a learning process.

What?

Who is learning and who is teaching?

Granted, the Bears don't posses a cadre of receivers with Pro Bowls on their resumes.

Yes, learning is a process but on-the-job training is not part of it. And throwing four picks won't teach wideouts how to catch the ball.

Yet there was Lovie Smith saying "Jay will be better the next time out."

Like maybe it could get worse?

Smith better hope Cutler controls his passes and emotions much better than he did Sunday night. The Bears need him now more than they did when he arrived in April.

And now the Bears must face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers, who also employ the 3-4 defense the Packers used to so effectively harass Cutler. True, the Steelers will be without their best defender, Troy Polamalu, who was injured in the season opener.

You could say Polamalu is to the Steelers as Urlacher is to the Bears - only better. Polamalu, an All-Pro safety, has two Super Bowl rings and he's in his prime.

But the Steelers possess more talent than the Bears. And the possess Ben Roethlisberger, who, like Polamalu, has won two championships.

Jay Cutler, you're no Ben Roethlisberger.

But you better start acting like him soon.

-

George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

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