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Mike Ditka believes the pressure is getting to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Cutler, who has been sacked an NFL-high 27 times this season, threw four interceptions to DeAngelo Hall -- including one he returned 92 yards for a touchdown -- in the Bears' 17-14 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. He also lost a fumble on a quarterback sneak at the 1-yard line.
"He's shell-shocked," Ditka, an ESPN analyst said Monday on "Mike & Mike" on ESPN Radio. "He's making mistakes that he normally wouldn't make, and I think it's because of the pressure. He's trying to do too much, and you can't do anything because of the pass protection and the way the plays are designed. If you're going to sit back there and take a seven-step drop everytime, the ball has got to come out.
"You're going to make a mistake once in awhile. The first thing we learned under [former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom] Landry is if you're going to throw the football you've got to protect the quarterback. And if you can't protect the quarterback, run the football. I don't know how to put it any other way. We've come to this technical game now in pro football where everybody wants to throw it all over the ballpark. That's all fine and well if you've got receivers, a good quarterback and you can protect him. But if you can't protect him, don't mess with it."
A week after rushing 14 times against the Seahawks, the Bears ran the ball 16 times for 66 yards against the Redskins and are second to last in the NFL with 22.3 attempts a game. The lack of a running game was particularly confusing to Ditka because the game was close throughout.
"It was like the game was there for anybody to take," the former Bears coach said. "It wasn't like Washington blew them out or anything. It was a three-point game. All they had to do was mount a couple drives and get a little consistency. They never did it. I'm not going to sit here and pick on them. I'm sure they are looking at the stuff [Monday] as a coaching staff and say, 'Man, how did we get to here?'"
Ditka said he sees a difference in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's play-calling with the Bears dropping two straight games and three of their past four.
"Mike Martz has backed off the offense a lot in the last couple weeks," Ditka said. "If you watch what they're doing they're not in the spread-out formations. They're sitting there in I [formation] and split backs, they've got three receivers with the tight end split out. But they're not really spread out all over the field. I think he's reined it in quite a bit. I don't care what you do, if you can't execute it ... on paper it all looks good, but if you don't execute it's not very much fun.