Chicago Sun-Times

Is Cutler's ire in Vikings game much ado about nothing?

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In the normal context of most NFL games, Jay Cutler yelling to somebody on the Bears sideline ''Tell him I said [bleep] you" or something close to that would be as inconsequential as Lovie Smith says it was Sunday night when Jay Cutler profanely vented an expletive after breaking the huddle in the Bears-Vikings game.

Tempers flare in the heat of battle in many professions. Just the other day in the media room at Halas Hall, one reporter told a competitor, ''[Bleep] you, bitch!'' in a rare heated exchange. Columnists from the same paper have had to be separated by cooler heads. It happens.

But the context of Cutler's ire makes it at least seem like it was more than just creative tension. As often as these disagreements supposedly happen in the NFL, how often do they happen when your team is winning 23-3? And how often do they happen on the field when a quarterback is getting ready to run a play? Don't those things usually happen on the sideline?

Yes, the Bears were trying to beat the clock in the final minute of the first half when an obviously irritated Cutler glared at the Bears sideline after Devin Hester dropped a catchable pass on second-and-seven from the Vikings 32. He called the play in the huddle, clapped to break the huddle then turned to the Bears' sideline and said -- as can be best discerned from NBC's field microphones, ''Tell him I said [bleep] you.'' Matt Forte lost one yard on a draw play.

But still, the Bears were winning 23-3. Doesn't that usually raise the threshold for that kind of anger? How upset do you have to get -- or how much pent-up frustration does there have to be -- for a quarterback to reach an ''F-you'' level of irritation when you're up 23-3 and your passer rating is 134.0?

Smith downplayed the incident when asked indirectly about it -- ''Was there a point where [Cutler] was upset with the sideline?'' -- Monday at Halas Hall. But his complaint that fans and media get to hear too much on the field was tacit acknowledgment that he heard the same thing we did.

''I don't think many guys were upset last night,'' he said. '' You know, those cameras -- you've got to be careful about those cameras and the access that you guys get now. Some things you don't want to know.

''For us, some things are sacred, like the locker room for the players. You don't want cameras and microphones down there. So ... there's got to be more important things to talk about than that type of stuff ... football.''

He's right about that last part. There are definitely more important things to talk about than what Jay Cutler might have been saying to Mike Martz or somebody on the Bears sideline. But it doesn't mean the Cutler outburst has to be ignored.

(And for the record, there were 11 or 12 things that were talked about prior to Lovie being asked about the Cutler situation -- Chris Harris' demotion; Devin Hester's injury; the trip to London this week; Cutler's comfort with the offense; and the Jim Harbaugh-Jim Schwartz tiff from Sunday among them.)

It isn't just our prurient interest in Bears dirty laundry that makes Cutler's frustration worth talking and writing about. It's the possibility that it's evidence of latent discord between Cutler and Martz that has kept the Bears' offense spinning its wheels for most of this season.

This isn't coming out of the blue. Cutler has not-so-subtly expressed his
uneasiness with the protection situation while still being a team guy and supporting his offensive line. And it was Cutler himself who, perhaps unwittingly, advanced the ''bad fit for Martz's offense'' angle last week when he acknowledged he talked with Martz about coming up with a game plan that will allow him to beat the pressure he's been getting.

In that context, the possibility that Cutler was venting at Martz in the middle of trying to run a play during a game isn't just a heat-of-the-moment thing. It's still not bigger than Theo Epstein being hired by the Cubs. Or even Chris Harris' curiously sudden demise. But it's not the proverbial tree falling in the forest. We heard it. Something definitely happened. And by the time this season is over, it might tell us more about the Bears than anything else that happened against the Vikings on Sunday night.

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I seriously hope that we don't run Martz out of town. Look at the game yesterday, he used max schemes to protect Cutler, but at the same time called some plays that put points on the board. Recall that John Snoop used to have the same constraints with better linemen, and better receivers and we were the most predictable team in the NFL. Personally, I don't think Cutler has the mental tools to play for a Martz offense even if we had capable linemen, but I think Martz still can be an affective play caller for the Bears if he's reigned in. He got reigned in last year after the Giants game, and after that the offense was decent. He can do the same thing again. I seriously don't want another Offensive Co-ordinator run out of town like Ron Turner. IMO, he was decent, but a scapegoat for crappy receivers that Angelo keeps providing for the team. But it already seems like the writing is on the wall. Martz will be this years scapegoat. Instead of the awful Offensive Line. Instead of mediocre receivers that we keep thinking are starter level. Next year we will get the next "Terry Shea" or "John Shoop".

We all know players and coaches can't fit their egos on the bus with the rest of the team, but Martz is notoriously stubborn even for a coach, and has done nothing to prove he is an offensive genius as a coordinator for the Bears. I hope Cutler is expressing frustration and getting angry with the horrible game planning and play calling Martz has shown throughout the last season and a half...You have a premier talent at the QB position, and you are getting him sacked basically 80 times, and knocked down even more than that because of your scheme.

Martz should understand his limitations from a personnel standpoint, and where his strengths are as far as the team is concerned. He has no offensive line, and outside of Forte, no real weapons on offense. So why not do what made Cutler successful in Denver, and roll the pocket, keep him moving around, and do something more imaginative than screens and square ins? Because Martz refuses to believe his system won't work with less than HOF caliber personnel....

I hope Jay keeps it up, and I would really like it if he started calling audibles and changing plays, instead of playing into the teeth of the defense all the time. Martz's play calling is so predictable, and so pedestrian, that a high school defensive coordinator can scheme to stop it. The only way we move the ball is to scrap Martz's offense (Carolina game of run-heavy offense), or to go max protect, and hope someone gets open (Minnesota game).

Cutler has a better sense of what is actually happening on the field than Martz does, as he spends more time daydreaming about his admission into Mensa for his level of genius...He is obviously not watching what happens, because he was getting Cutler killed play after play. If we want a successful Jay Cutler, we need an unemployed Mike Martz. I still stand by what I said before we hired Martz. Jeff Jagodzinski would have been a perfect fit for this team. He wasn't a fit in Tampa, especially since they had no QB at the time, but with a strong armed, mobile Cutler, he would have been excellent at keeping defenses off balance.

I think this situation will have mostly positive results. If the play Cutler called in opposition to Martz's had led to a touchdown, I would be more impressed. Perhaps Martz's call would have had better results than Cutler's, but the short pick-up did lead to a 51 yard field goal. Maybe that yard an a half made the difference and maybe Martz's call would have led to a sack and a Cutler injury. Who knows? Forgetting about the whole thing is probably the best response. I'm more concerned with a tough Tampa team. A couple of injuries they have may help, but the Bear offensive line is still likely to be under the gun again in this game. I think Cutler can cut the Tampa defense to ribbons if he is given enough time, and I suspect Forte will have quite a bit of trouble gaining much yardage on the ground. screens and over the middle passes shoiuld be efective.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on October 17, 2011 2:17 PM.

Chris Harris' agent: "It's nothing personal" was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears not too concerned about Devin Hester injury is the next entry in this blog.

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