|Cutler had a long night Thursday at Lambeau Field. (AP)|
By the time Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw his last meaningful pass it may have already been too late. Trailing 16-3 with 11:30 to go in the fourth quarter, Cutler, who had been harassed all evening by a combination of a tenacious Green Bay rush and some suspect pass-blocking, threw a desperation bomb to wide receiver Brandon Marshall that was easily intercepted by cornerback Tramon Williams.
When it was over, the Packers won 23-10 and Cutler's stat line looked positively Hanie-ian (11 of 27, 126 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs). But the reality is that he got virtually no help from his teammates. A week after an impressive showing against a punchless Colts outfit, the Bears looked like the team that has historically struggled at Lambeau Field.
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Last Sunday, Marshall was targeted 15 times and caught nine passes for 119 yards with a touchdown. Thursday in Green Bay, Marshall didn't see his first target until early in the third quarter and he dropped what should've been a touchdown. The next target was on the aforementioned interception, and the third time Cutler went to him finally resulted in a catch -- but that came with 7:20 to go in the game with the Bears down 20. Marshall finished with two receptions for 24 yards. (By comparison, Green Bay's backup tight end Tom Crabtree hauled in one shovel pass for a 27-yard score.)
Cutler's second pick came after he extended the play and found wide receiver Earl Bennett open in the middle of the field. But Bennett, who was Cutler's teammate at Vanderbilt, didn't come back for the pass and wily veteran Charles Woodson broke on the ball for his 55th career interception. This was a microcosm of Cutler's evening.
It certainly didn't help that Packers linebacker Clay Matthews abused Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb like JaMarcus Russell abuses a Big Mac. Matthews had four sacks on the night and Cutler went down seven times. But Cutler was frustrated long before the game got out of hand, laying into Webb in the half.
"I care about this, this isn't just a hobby for me," Cutler said after the game about his frustrations boiling over. "I'm not doing this for my health. I'm trying to win football games, I'm trying to get first downs and when we're not doing the little things, when we're not doing things the right way consistently I'm going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn't care, they need to get somebody else."
For all the talk about how jettisoning offensive coordinator Mike Martz would magically fix the Bears' passing game, we learned Thursday that maybe Martz wasn't the only problem. Several times Cutler went down in max-protect situations, which doesn't speak well of the pass-blocking or the ability of Chicago receivers' to get open.
Compounding matters: running back Matt Forte headed to the locker room with an ankle injury after rushing for 31 yards on seven carries.
The takeaway: there were few positives for the Bears' offense -- but it's Week 2. Four days ago, there were questions about what happened to the Packers after they lost at home to the 49ers. No one's talking about that now.The Bears still have a chance to be one of the NFC's best teams and the defense played well against Aaron Rodgers. Obviously, Martz's replacement, Mike Tice, has to get the protection issues sorted but as long as Cutler, Marshall and (hopefully) Forte are on the field -- and the defense plays like it did Thursday -- Chicago will be in the mix come December.