Two hours before kickoff, the CBS analyst Phil Simms was venting. He can't believe the scrutiny Jay Cutler has been under since his clunker of a debut with the Bears last Sunday at Green Bay.
Simms is here at Soldier Field to broadcast the game on Ch. 2 with Jim Nantz, the network's No. 1 crew. After watching tape of Cutler's four-interception performance during the week, Simms knew the Bears' new quarterback would come under fire. He's surprised at the level of criticism, which included Mike Martz and Jim Mora Sr. this past week firing on Cutler for his demeanor in a postgame press conference.
"Sure, I can believe it,'' Simms said. ``It's the reality of the NFL now. It might be a little higher here in Chicago right now, or a little more of a subject because you're reminded every day in this city about the history of quarterbacks. But really it is just commonplace now for NFL quarterbacks. Hate 'em from Day 1 if they don't win and throw all touchdowns and no interceptions.
"The critical comments, the overanalyzation of everything, Week 1, there is no other way to describe it except that it is out of control. That's all I can say. All I am reading is body language, `I can see this,' or `I can see that,' 'I can just tell.' I'm telling you, I wish I could go on and do the game today and do commentary on that because it is absurd.''
Simms doesn't see this being an issue for Cutler moving forward, but he also wasn't predicting an easy road this afternoon against the Super Bowl champions.
"The players don't listen don't listen to all the talk radio, read all the articles and watch ESPN around the clock where we have 40 guys analyzing every throw Jay Cutler makes,'' Simms said. "If I have to hear one more time, `Oh, you don't throw across the field.' That's another cliche that needs to be blown up because Jay Cutler has thrown across his body 300 times already in his career and he has hit about 100 big plays out of it. Is he going to make mistakes? Sure.
"Someone could say, `Well, hey, he could have a bad day again today.' No kidding. It is the Pittsburgh Steelers. It won't be a walk in the park. I'll make judgment after about eight weeks, maybe at the end of the season. I feel pretty secure in saying his talent and who he is will come through. His talent is tremendous, absolutely one of the top five most talented quarterbacks in the NFL."
Here are the Bears' inactives for the game: wide receivers Juaquin Iglesias and Devin Aromashodu, cornerbacks D.J. Moore and DeAngelo Smith, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, tight end Desmond Clark, guard Lance Louis and defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert.
That means that linebacker Tim Shaw, who was signed to take the place of Brian Urlacher, is active and should play on special teams.
For Pittsburgh, third quarterback Dennis Dixon, wide receiver Limas Sweed, defensive backs Troy Polamalu and Keenan Lewis, offensive linemen Kraig Urbik and Tony Hills, defensive end Nick Eason and linebacker Arnold Harrison are inactive.