Four Downs: Should Cutler apologize?

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
9:37
AM ET
Jay CutlerChris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty ImagesJay Cutler wasn't happy with J'Marcus Webb against the Packers on Thursday.
The Green Bay Packers brought the Chicago Bears back to earth last week and frustrated Jay Cutler, who railed against left tackle J'Marcus Webb very publicly in the midst of a four-interception performance.

On Tuesday, Bears nickel back D.J. Moore said Cutler was wrong for yelling at Webb, but he doesn't expect the quarterback to apologize because "he's always been that way."

That may be true, but does Cutler owe his embattled left tackle an apology for the outburst seen on national television? Our panel weighs in on that and more:

First Down

Fact or Fiction: Cutler should apologize to Webb and the offensive line for his outburst during the loss to the Packers.


Jeff Dickerson: Fiction. Cutler needs to apologize to the team for being unable to beat the Packers (1-6) or for failing to protect the football in many critical games, but the outburst on Webb doesn't warrant a public apology. Would it be nice if Cutler pulled Webb aside privately and discussed the matter? Of course. But Cutler really doesn't seem like that type of person, so my advice to Webb is simple: Clean up your technique and stop surrendering so many sacks. The only way to keep the quarterback off your back to keep him off his.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireJay Cutler recorded the second-worst passer rating of his career (28.2) on Thursday against the Packers.

Michael C. Wright: Fiction. These aren’t toddlers. These are men playing a man’s sport. So while an apology from Cutler might go a long way, I wouldn’t say it’s really a necessity. The guys on the offensive line probably on some level feel they deserved a kick in the pants from the quarterback. If anything, Cutler just needs to take this as a learning experience, move on from it, and not ever do such a thing again because in the end, he was just as accountable for the meltdown as everyone else. This looks like a situation in which the team knows Cutler was wrong for what he did, and he surely knows it, too. So I’d be surprised if Bears coach Lovie Smith hasn’t already sat down privately with Cutler to address this situation. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that Cutler has already spoken to the offensive line. If Cutler has or plans on apologizing to the offensive line, I just think it should be a sincere thing and not contrived.

Scott Powers: Fact. The Bears need to move on from this distraction as soon as possible. Whether or not Cutler feels his actions were justified, he needs to swallow his pride on this one and apologize for the sake of the team. Obviously, the line, especially Webb, has to improve. If it doesn’t, it should begin worrying not about Cutler’s wrath, but that of Smith and the front office.

Jon Greenberg: Fiction. The line doesn’t need Cutler to be their friend, and he doesn’t need be the cuddly quarterback. Cutler just needs to be a better quarterback and less of a jerk to his teammates in the future. Sure, he could throw in a “Sorry dude,” but he’s borne the brunt of his actions in Green Bay. I don’t think Cutler has accomplished enough in the NFL to warrant his hissy fits, but I think his teammates know him well enough to let it pass.


Second Down

Fact or Fiction: Gabe Carimi should start in place of Webb at LT.


Jeff Dickerson: Fiction. Carimi hasn't taken a snap at left tackle since college. You can't just throw him out there on the fly. Rushing to place Carimi at left tackle would be, at this point, weakening two positions -- even though the former first-round pick won the Outland Trophy his last year at Wisconsin. If the Bears want to seriously consider moving Carmi over to be Cutler's blindside protector, they need to give him the proper amount of practice reps before he's ready for game action. If Webb continues to struggle, and if Chris Williams is not deemed a more capable replacement, then experiment with Carimi at left tackle during the bye week in mid-October.

[+] EnlargeGabe Carimi
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireGabe Carimi hasn't played left tackle since college.
Michael C. Wright: Fiction. And I only say “fiction” because if the Bears considered him to be a better option at the position than Webb, Carimi would already have been moved into the starting lineup at left tackle. Lost in all the overreaction to Cutler yelling at Webb is the fact that Carimi didn’t play much better against the Packers in pass protection. While adept as a run blocker, Carimi gave up five hurries against the Packers and was called for a couple of penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct flag for hitting A.J. Hawk. Webb, meanwhile, was responsible for two -- that's right, just two -- of the sacks Cutler suffered, and two hurries.

Scott Powers: Fact. What do the Bears have to lose in starting Carimi over Webb? That Cutler will get possibly sacked? That may happen anyway. I don’t think you know what you have in Carimi at left tackle unless you give him more of an opportunity. The St. Louis Rams could be just the team to experiment this with. They’re tied for 27th in the NFL with two sacks.

Jon Greenberg: Fact. It wouldn’t be the easiest transition right now, and I wouldn’t make this decision until the bye week, but it’s pretty obvious that Cutler has no faith in Webb, and it’s affecting his play. Also, Webb isn’t very good. It made sense to keep Carimi at right tackle during training camp, because he was coming off knee surgery. But as long as Carimi is healthy, why would you put your less talented tackle guarding Cutler’s blind spot?


Third Down

Fact or Fiction: The Bears won't lose much if Michael Bush plays for Matt Forte.


Jeff Dickerson: Fiction. Bush is a solid tailback to have in the rotation, but Forte is a Pro Bowler who can beat a team on several levels. No matter how you spin it, Forte will be missed if he is forced to sit out due to a sprained ankle.

[+] EnlargeMichael Bush
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireMichael Bush gained much of his 977 yards rushing last season in place of an injured Darren McFadden.

Michael C. Wright: Fact. That’s difficult to admit considering what the Bears gave up to sign Forte to a long-term contract. But you can’t deny what Bush has done when given the opportunity. Forte definitely possesses more explosion and elusiveness than Bush, which means the Bears will likely see some drop off at running back in the screen game. But for what the Bears lose in those areas, the Bears gain with Bush’s strength, deceptive speed, and footwork in between the tackles. So without Forte, the Bears lose an explosive element of their game. But it’s not a bad thing to feature a bruiser at running back that can help you pound opponents.

Scott Powers: Fiction. Bush isn’t a bad second option, but he is in no way Forte. Bush has been a good-but-not-great running back throughout his career. He’s dependable in that he’ll get you a first down when a few tough yards are needed, and he won’t fumble and occasionally he’ll break a big run. But overall, he’s not the same dynamic player as Forte, who can change a game running the ball or catching it. He’s proven that throughout his career. Bush doesn’t provide that same element.

Jon Greenberg: Fiction. Bush is a solid running back who runs with purpose, but Forte is a special back who gives the Bears big-play ability as a runner and receiver. When Forte gets loose, he has Devin Hester-like shiftiness and straight-line speed, not to mention a wow factor. There are aspects to Bush’s game that might be superior to Forte, but No. 22 will be missed if he’s out for multiple games.


Fourth Down

Fact or Fiction: The Rams' Chris Long will have at least two sacks on Sunday.


Jeff Dickerson: Fiction. I cannot fathom the idea of the Bears ignoring the opposition's best pass rusher for a second consecutive week. They made a critical error last week when the offense failed to give Webb adequate help on Clay Matthews -- while the Packers took the exact opposite approach and triple-teamed Julius Peppers on several occasions. The story of this game up front likely will be what Peppers is able to accomplish against a banged-up St. Louis offensive line. But if for some reason Long goes wild, then the Bears are in more trouble than I thought.

[+] EnlargeChris Long
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesChris Long, who had 13 sacks last season, is still looking for his first this season.

Michael C. Wright: Fact. Chose “fiction” last week when asked this same question about Matthews and got burned. So that’s not happening again this week, especially when considering what appears to be an extremely tenuous situation on an offensive line that is supposed to be improved from a year ago. Coming off somewhat of a breakout season in 2011 (13 sacks), Long hasn’t yet generated a sack this season. So surely he sees the matchup with the Bears as a perfect opportunity to finally get rolling on the right track statistically. Really, could anyone blame him after what transpired at Lambeau Field?

Scott Powers: Fiction. Yes, I was wrong about what Matthews could do to the Bears’ offensive line last week, but I don’t believe Long has that same capability. He doesn’t have a sack on the season. He may get his first sack this week -- a number of the Rams defensive linemen may improve their stats this week -- but I think he gets just the one.

Jon Greenberg: Fact. Long must be licking his chops to face the Bears after watching last week's debacle. It’s like asking if his dad Howie stole the show in the mid-‘90s classic “Broken Arrow.” Last week, I thought the Bears could keep edge rusher Matthews under two sacks with a quick-hitting passing attack and a reliance on the run. Well, that didn’t work. Matthews had 3 1/2 sacks in the Packers’ blowout win. I think the pain continues for Cutler this week. Hope Webb brings his earplugs to Soldier Field.

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