BBAO: Re-evaluating the Bears' capabilities


We're Black and Blue All Over:

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has professed unwavering loyalty to the team's offensive scheme from the moment Mike Martz arrived as offensive coordinator. But in the midst of a second consecutive year of physical punishment and uncertainty in pass protection, Cutler has finally said what many have feared: The pressure is getting to him.

Cutler told reporters that he is "hoping" to see Martz make changes to reflect the issues the Bears are facing. In comments I would be concerned about if I were a Bears decision-maker, Cutler implied the team doesn't have the personnel makeup to pull off what it's trying to do. (A sentiment I think many would agree with.)

"At a certain point you're gonna have to evaluate what you can do in the passing game and what you can't do," Cutler said, via Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com. "That's not up to me, though. I don't really want to be under pressure a lot. Physically, [the pressure is] not that big of a deal. Mentally, it just speeds up my clock. It just makes me uneasy in the pocket. Psychologically and mentally [it's more an issue] than anything [else]. I just don't want to take a sack, just [want to] try to get rid of the ball as fast as possible."

Speeding up a quarterback's clock is the hoped-for impact of any pass rush, and it's a primary ingredient in turnovers and other mistakes. Cutler has received criticism for his public deportment over his career, but I applaud him for voicing, in a non-critical manner, what seems like an obvious flaw in the Bears' scheme.

The Bears can't protect the quarterback well enough to do what Martz wants to do. They also don't have a crew of pass-catchers that can bail Cutler out of pressure situations. If they want him to play his best, they're going to have to find a way to pull back. That's much more practical than waiting for improvement from multiple players at different positions.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times examines the Bears' defensive woes.

  • It wouldn't be surprising for the Bears to make some personnel changes Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, especially at safety. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has more.

  • Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best grew up "hating" the San Francisco 49ers, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.

  • Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy has made the adjustment to playing on the outside, notes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News.

  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz gave fans the game ball for Monday night's victory over the Bears, notes Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com. The ball will be painted and displayed at Ford Field.

  • Bryan Bulaga "almost certainly" would play right tackle for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday if his knee holds up, reports Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

  • Former Packers cornerback Al Harris is likely to start for their opponent this weekend, the St. Louis Rams. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines that possibility.

  • Packers coach Mike McCarthy isn't happy about public discussion of his wide receivers' playing time, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. Donald Driver, whose snaps have diminished of late, said: "Do I think I can still play? Yeah. I'm OK with whatever the numbers are. We have a bunch of great receivers and tight ends, and you get to the point where everybody can't get the ball. Back in the day when I was 'The Guy,' I got all the balls. It didn't matter how many people I had on me. Now when you have so many weapons, you have to spread that ball around so everyone can feel the love. I think everybody feels it right now."

  • Minnesota Vikings fans are filled with venom these days, writes Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune.

  • Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian has moved past his game-day deactivation last Sunday, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.

  • Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said that a state report on his stadium project in Arden Hills, Minn., confirms that "the site is ideal, and the costs … are close to being solvable." The St. Paul Pioneer Press has more.