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Hey, Lovie: There's no need to coddle Cutler
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Columnist

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler walks off the field frustrated after the Bears failed to make a first down during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

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Published: 11/24/2009 5:17 PM

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The day after a game in which Jay Cutler repeatedly overthrew open receivers, compiled an unsatisfactory passer rating of 63.2 and once again failed to lead the Bears to a late touchdown that could have won the game, coach Lovie Smith was remarkably charitable in his evaluation.

"He made good decisions (Sunday) night," Smith said of Cutler. "He overthrew a few passes; that happens with all quarterbacks. Jay was active throughout; he brought us back, brought our team back and put us in position to win the game. That's what you judge everything by. You look at the full body of work. He put our team in position to win the game, (but) we weren't able to hold on."

That is a load of garbage. So much so that it insults the intelligence of every Bears fan (insert joke here).

In the third quarter, trailing 17-12, Cutler did lead the Bears to a touchdown, which was scored on his deftly lofted pass to tight end Kellen Davis from 15 yards out. Cutler also fired a dart over the middle to Matt Forte for the 2-point conversion and a 20-17 lead.

But that was the Bears' only TD drive of the night. And it only required 55 yards of travel because Johnny Knox returned a kickoff 41 yards to the Bears' 45-yard line. On their next three possessions after that score, Cutler and the Bears failed to get even 1 first down, and the quarterback was off target on third-and-4 and third-and-5 passes that could have extended two of the possessions.

Cutler played poorly Sunday night, and that's what Smith should have said. Jay's a big boy, and he can take criticism. Mollycoddling him only makes him look like a prima donna, which he isn't. He's proven he can take all the shots that come with playing behind an underachieving offensive line without flinching, complaining or pointing fingers. He surely can take an honest assessment of his play.

As close as Smith came to criticizing his quarterback, (telling it like it is) was when he said: "Jay will be the first guy to say that we need to hit some of those throws."

But that was only after Smith said: "I like a lot of things that Jay did of protecting the football, which gave us an opportunity at the end to win."

Cutler shouldn't be praised because he only threw 1 interception. If he'd have played better early in the game, the Bears wouldn't have needed a fourth-quarter comeback.

Granted Cutler has struggled most of the season behind a porous offensive line and a group of wide receivers who have talent but lack experience and savvy. But the Bears traded away a good chunk of their future because they believed Cutler to be the kind of quarterback who could win games that go into the fourth quarter with the outcome hanging in the balance.

He did that against the Steelers and the Seahawks, but that was way back in Weeks Two and Three, and after he came up short at Green Bay in the season opener. The last three times the Bears needed a touchdown to tie or win the game in the fourth quarter - against the Falcons, 49ers and Eagles - Cutler and the offense didn't get it done.

I wonder how Kyle Orton would have done.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

Ex-Bear of the week

Safety Mike Brown had 9 tackles and 1 sack in the Chiefs' stunning 27-24 overtime upset victory of the Steelers.

A week earlier Brown had 2 interceptions in a 16-10 victory over the Raiders. The Chiefs signed Brown as an unrestricted free agent, and he has played in all 10 of their games.

In his final five seasons with the Bears, Brown missed 44 games due to injuries and ended four of those seasons on injured reserve.

Runner-up: Tight end Michael Gaines was signed by the Bears last off-season as an unrestricted free agent but terminated on Oct. 17 after playing in just one game and failing to catch a pass.

But he was quickly picked up by the Browns. On Sunday, he caught a 2-yard TD pass from Brady Quinn with 5:44 left to put his team ahead 37-31, although they lost 38-37 on the final play of the game.