Chicago Sun-Times

It's Bennett or bust for struggling Cutler vs. Lions

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The return of Earl Bennett might not be the boon to Jay Cutler that it seemed to be. It's clear that Cutler has a special rapport with his former Vanderbilt teammate. But after Sunday's victory over the Lions at Soldier Field, it's starting to look like Bennett is the only receiver Cutler has a rapport with.

Against the Lions, it seemed like if Bennett wasn't open, nobody was. Bennett had six receptions for 81 yards in the first half, including gains of 15 yards on second-and-15, 17 yards on third-and-13 and 30 yards on second-and-three.

But when Bennett wasn't targeted in the second half, Cutler was shut out. He was 0-for-5 passing to finish 9-of-19 for 123 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 68.5 passer rating.

In the two games that Bennett has played since returning from a nagging chest bruise, he has 11 receptions for 176 yards. That' s more than 53 percent of Cutler's 331 passing yards in those two games.

Cutler doesn't seem to have much of a connection, or much patience, for anybody else. Roy Williams looked like he had a chance for a touchdown on a third-and-seven play at the Lions 17 on the first play of the second quarter. But while Williams went deep, Cutler threw short -- an obvious miscommunication.

''We've got to get that straight,'' Williams said when I asked him about it after the game. ''We just got to get it going, that's all. Very fixable. Nothing to worry about. We'll have it fixed next week.''

We'll see about that. When Williams went over to Cutler on the sideline after the miscommunicated play, he cheerfully slapped his quarterback on the backside, as if to say, 'my bad.' Cutler gave him the palms up and shook his head. As well all know too well, you can't make too much of Cutler's sideline manner -- that's Jay being Jay -- but it's easy to see why it takes such a long time for Cutler to build a rapport or connection with a receiver.

For what it's worth, Sam Hurd played at least a series for Williams in the second half -- and caught a 21-yard pass. And Cutler only attempted one other pass Williams' way the rest of the game. Stay tuned.

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There's a reason why Williams is boucing around the league and it's not a good reason. He's pretty much a knucklehead.

The way the defense played yesterday, there was no need for offense. Charles Tillman was the player of the game to me for the job he did on Calvin Johnson. In back to back weeks Tillman has come to play, he did a heck of a job last week vs the Eagles also, but this week vs Megatron was his best performance of the season. And how about that hit by Lance Briggs, simply epic, although he's probably gonna get a heck of a fine, it still goes down as one of the better hits I've seen all season. That hit will knock the taste out of your mouth! I gotta give a shout out to Julius Peppers also, J-Pep was also very active, ol Megatron ran into a guy a little bit bigger, and a little bit stronger on that play Peppers forced him to fumble. Chris Conte continues to make plays also with a forced fumble of his own.

As far as the offense, yes, Earl Bennett is the only receiver on the roster with any ability to run routes and actually make a catch, the other receivers are only good for 1 catch a game it seems? That has to change.

Now, I understand the Bears are getting very poor play from the receiver position right now, but, there comes a time when a quarterback has to step up and make some plays. Since the bye Cutler has only completed 52.9% of his passes with only 2 td passes. Cutler also needs to step up or this team will remain limited and probably not go very far come playoff time. The Bears are making it easier for Cutler giving him the max protection and a very good run game. Cutler averages 31 pass attempts a game so far this season, he needs to make more happen in the passing game with these attempts, thats why he's getting the money he's getting, to make plays in the passing game. Cutler has only put up 300 plus passing yards twice this season and has yet to put up 3 or more TD passes. As of right now, Cutler is basically a game manager with a strong arm, that isn't why Angelo traded for him. Cutler was brought in to make plays in the passing game, not be a game manager. This also has to change. Is Cutler an elite QB, that remains to be seen, but I question if he ever will be, as of right now, no. Manning goes down in Indy and we find out just how elite Manning was and how much the winning in Indy was because of Manning. The Bears are winning games with their defense, special teams, and running game, not their quarterback. This has to change if Chicago wants to make a run, the Bears need more from Cutler, just an opinion now GO BEARS!!

In fairness, the Lions defensive line was manhandling him more than any other team the last few games. When the defensive line isn't just getting to the quarterbck, but ripping his helmet off, almost crushing him to the ground in the endzone and getting a few sacks, targeting someone without strong hands who might not catch it might've been a bad interception.

Big surprise there...not a single receiver on this roster outside of Bennett is capable of reading the defense and making the right adjustment to their route. this is another reason the Martz offense had to be scrapped for the run-heavy, play-action, pocket-moving version we see now. But I won't get into another tirade about how Martz is going to get Cutler killed.

Hurd at least has a chance to be decent, but should never be more than a 4th or 5th receiver for a professional football team. Knox is awful, Hester is downright pedestrian in his route running, and Roy Williams is abysmal. Sanzenbacher, an undrafted rookie, is the only other guy Cutler wants to throw to, because he actually goes where he is supposed to. These guys run sloppy routes when they somehow manage to run the right route, and are inconsistent in catching the ball, because all of the fight the ball with their hands and try to use their body to catch, instead of snatching the ball out of the air, which Bennett does.

The Bears have major holes to fill in the upcoming offseason, but offensive line and wide receiver need to be at the top of the list. If nothing else, this should be a ringing endorsement for Forte and Cutler, because imagine how bad we would be right now without their efforts. Good news is there are solid players at both positions coming out in the draft, and tons of guys who only signed 1 year deals as free agents will be out there again.

I think the tendancy is going to be to over-react to the offensive performance in this game. I absolutely expected an ugly game both ways on offense. It was always going to be about defense and special teams, and that is what happened.

Guys this is the NFC North, in the Windy City, in November. Detroit now has a nasty, talented defensive front to match the on across the line for the Chicago Bears. Forget the Greatest Show on Turf. It ain't gonna happen against Detroit any more. Not for a long while.

If this game occured between Pittsburg and Baltimore nobody would have been surprised. That's what it's going to be against Detroit in Sodier Field. Maybe in the their dome we will see some different games, but not outdoors in Chicago. And until Detroit can play with the Bears without having Stafford chuck it around all day, the Bears will win more than they lose.

Well maybe, just maybe if Cutler had so good recievers he would have a better report with them. Between all the dropped passes, rout mistakes, and crazy calls its hard to build a solid relationship.

Give him the same weapons GB has and my guess is he would be a really happy QB.

Despite what some people thought they still need an upgrade on the Oline, and you need better recievers. Look Bennett is a nice 3rd down reciever but is not going to Break many big plays, look at the Packers number 3 reciever Jordy Nelson, that guys monster after the catch, is unreal on 3rd downs, and Breaks tackles like Matt Forte.

The Bears have a nice defense going, they are running a really nice single deep man corner scheme now, which is looking much better and they are running it most of tyhe game instead of the Lovie 2. Special teams is always going to be good with Toub. But when it comes to the offense, sure they changed some things up and Max protect helps. But you can't get away with that forever, the Bears adjusted, and then the league takes a couple of games to get some film and starts adjusting back. But its clear the Bears offense is a limited offense in what it can do. They constantly need blockers, have problems creating any deep plays, Forte does most of his running off tackle cause they still get no push up the middle. You can only change up schemes so much but eventually the league catches up. In the end it comes down to talent, and they don't enough of it on offense.

On defense you have Peppers, Urlacher, Briggs and Tillman. You have a couple of solid players in Izzy, Jennings and Adams to mix in with them and there you see some real talent. They have more talent on defense than Detroit. But at some point the offense is going to need and to win some games for the Bears, and right now they can't do it. They need special teams and the defense giving them great field position, and helping them score to win games. You just really can't count on 21 points from special teams and the defense every game.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on November 13, 2011 11:47 PM.

Fumbles get ball rolling for Bears' defense vs. Lions was the previous entry in this blog.

NFL policy in fighting will cost lots of Bears and Lions money is the next entry in this blog.

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