Mike Martz to help protect Jay Cutler
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One day after Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler expressed his desire to see a few tweaks made in the offense to alleviate some of the pressure he's faced in the first five weeks, offensive coordinator Mike Martz endorsed the idea of calling plays that allow the ball to get out of Cutler's hands more quickly.
"He's right," Martz said. "We're working on it. He's absolutely right. We've talked about it as a staff and we've addressed this issue. Until we get stabilized a little bit on the offensive line ... The same thing happened to us last year, if you remember. Once we got stabilized there ... In an ideal world, you'd like to have all those guys play just like you had in the opener, and things went well, but that's not the case. So we've got to make sure that we're giving him a chance with some of those quicker throws and things. There's no question about that."
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So far in 2011, Cutler has been sacked 18 times, which ties for the league high.
Over the last two years, Cutler has taken 70 sacks despite the quarterback putting up relatively low numbers in terms of attempts. For instance, the offensive line gave up a league high in sacks in 2010, yet the team passed the ball 466 times, an NFL low. So far this season, Chicago is third in sacks allowed (18), and tied for 17th in pass attempts (169).
"At a certain point you're going to have to evaluate what you can do in the passing game and what you can't do," Cutler said Wednesday. "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."
Martz feels the necessary changes in the game plan can be made in time for Sunday night's matchup against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. The Vikings boast an effective defensive front led by perennial Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, who leads the NFL with 8½ sacks.
"Oh, sure. It's all part of the system," Martz said. "We just change gears and go in that direction. It's not hard. We're dealing with that, and we're certainly going to address that."
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. ESPNChicago.com's Michael Wright contributed to this report.