Bears general manager Phil Emery seems to be focusing his search for a replacement for Lovie Smith on a coach who can maximize quarterback Jay Cutler. But some experts believe that person does not exist.
On CBS' ''NFL Today'' pre-game show Sunday, analyst Shannon Sharpe was the latest to imply that Cutler is more the problem than the solution. In fact, he said it outright:
''Jay Cutler, I do not believe he is a leader of men,'' Sharpe told the show's panel of James Brown, Bill Cowher and Dan Marino. ''He's a quarterback, not a leader. And there's a difference.''
''So you're saying he's a coach killer?'' Sharpe nodded in the affirmative.
That's a familiar refrain regarding Cutler. In fact, Cowher and Marino were critical of Cutler's leadership earlier this season, after Cutler shoved left tackle J'Marcus Webb in the Bears' 23-10 loss to the Packers on a Thursday night game at Lambeau Field in Week 2.
''I think it's a problem,'' Cowher said. ''The guy's got a strong arm. There is no question about it. He's had some protection issues. I know there's been some questionable [play] calling. But they brought players in to help this guy win a championship, and he's going to prove to be more accountable -- not sensationalize every little mistake with his antics and body language.
''Listen he's a good quarterback. But if he does not change his ways and the team does not go to the playoffs, they have to consider changing. He has to change.''
Cutler, for the record, was on his best behavior the rest of the season, even when the Bears' fortunes turned sour in the second half. But the Bears still did not make the playoffs. Cutler's passer rating was 76.3 in the second half (7 TDs, 6 INTs). It was 85.3 in the first half (12 TDs, 8 INTs).
Said Marino after the Webb incident: ''You have to lead by example. He has a great arm, but it's not just all about throwing a fastball. You've got to learn how to play the position.''