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Columnist
How are Jay Cutler's woes Turner's fault?
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Columnist

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) and wide receiver Devin Hester (23) leave the field after turning the ball over to the Arizona Cardinals in the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009.

 

Associated Press

New Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner speaks during his introduction at Halas Hall in Lake Forest.

 

Gilber R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/14/2009 7:38 PM

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Comments:

There are a few things I don't understand.

OK, there are a lot of things I don't understand, but we're just talking Bears football here.

I don't see how, when Jay Cutler throws 5 interceptions in one game, the solution is to fire offensive coordinator Ron Turner as many have suggested.

I don't get it.

How is it that Turner is the problem when Cutler keeps throwing the ball to guys in the wrong-colored jerseys? How is it Turner's fault that the offensive line is as effective as a screen door on a submarine? Or that Matt Forte seems to have lost the innate running skills he possessed last year?

Obviously it's easier to fire one assistant coach than an entire offensive line, but in this case it's personnel more than coaching. Look what happened to the Bears' defense after coordinator Ron Rivera was shown the door after Super Bowl XLI. The Bears got worse as a team and as a defense.

When the Bears extended Cutler's contract through 2013 a little over three weeks ago with $30 million in new money, the consensus was that it was a great move for the future. Talk about bad timing; in the four games since then, Cutler's thrown 10 interceptions and just 4 TD passes.

But it's too soon to call the Cutler trade and the extension bad moves, even though the Bears have no realistic chance at the playoffs this season.

Has it been a horrible start? Absolutely, but the main reason the Bears got Cutler is because he had already been to a Pro Bowl and is young enough (26) to keep improving and play at a high level for the next eight or 10 years.

With 17 picks already, Cutler is a lock for a 20-interception season, but that doesn't mean he won't be a great quarterback in the long run. Brett Favre had five seasons with more than 20 interceptions. Eli Manning had 20 the season he was 26, and big brother Peyton threw 23 interceptions the year he was 25.

Chalk this season up to growing pains, for Cutler and for his inexperienced group of wide receivers. It was all the rage in the off-season and preseason to call the Bears' wide receivers the worst group in football.

So how can anyone expect a great season from Cutler, especially when you factor in the lack of a running game and a rebuilt offensive line that isn't any better than last year's and may be worse?

There aren't many NFL teams that would swap wide receivers with the Bears. But Devin Hester and Earl Bennett are much improved, and Johnny Knox has flashed greatness from Day One. They may become a productive, explosive unit soon, but for now, they're all still learning on the job.

This isn't to excuse Cutler's performance. Many of his interceptions have come on ill-advised throws and/or in the red zone, where turnovers are magnified because of their importance.

But it wasn't Cutler's fault that Hester slipped and fell while a pass to him was in the air. And Cutler's not responsible for Niners safety Mark Roman making a better break on his pass than intended receiver Kellen Davis.

Cutler needs to play a lot better than he has to justify the Bears' faith and investment in him, but so do a lot of the players around him.