Appropriately, Jay Cutler is wondering if he’ll make it through the season. From ESPN Chicago:
Still raspy-voiced from a kick to the throat and beatdown by the New Orleans Saints defense, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler rapped twice on a lectern when pondering whether he could make it through the rest of this season with this type of punishment.
“I don’t know,” Cutler said. “I don’t know.”
We’re all wondering how it’s going to be possible, Jay. In fact, we’re pretty blown away that you’ve been able to start 19 of a possible 20 games during your run in Chicago.
After taking six sacks and being hit 16 times Sunday in New Orleans, Cutler has now been sacked 68 times in 19 games as a Bear. He’s taken 11 sacks this year, which puts him on pace to take an NFL-record 88 of ‘em on the season. There’s a reason why no pivot has ever been taken down 80 times in a single season, and it’s because they’re almost always eventually victimized by all of the abuse.
Sure, part of the problem in Chicago is Mike Martz. Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago points out that “from 1999 to 2010 (Martz didn’t coach in 2009), Martz’s offense ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in sacks allowed in nine of the coach’s 11 seasons, and in the top three in each of his last four.”
But general manager Jerry Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith haven’t done enough to improve an offensive line that has been shaky since before Martz’s arrival last season. The team let veteran center Olin Kreutz depart as a free agent and signed a replacement, Chris Spencer, who still hasn’t been able to crack the starting lineup. J’Marcus Webb has struggled at left tackle and top 2008 pick Chris Williams has been a disappointment. They did use a top pick this April on new right tackle Gabe Carimi, but Carimi’s already hurt, as is right guard Lance Louis. Because Roberta Garza has been forced to slide into the center spot, they don’t have any half-decent reserves to step in.
Yet Angelo thinks he’s done enough.
“We have to make it work,” he told Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune in August. “You can’t have stars at every position. It doesn’t work that way.” But the Bears came out of free agency with about $20 million in unused cap space. They didn’t hesitate to invest in a slew of mediocre veterans at other positions this summer, but they inexplicably left the offensive line to rot. They didn’t need stars, but they could have used a boost.
This week, Angelo told the team’s website that “we did everything you could possibly do to [the offensive line]. Nobody did more than the Chicago Bears,” adding that “we like our eight linemen. That’s not an issue.”
But it clearly is an issue and I can’t understand how he feels they did everything they could possibly do. Why not spend some of that leftover cash on Doug Free or Tyson Clabo or Jermon Bushrod, all of whom were unrestricted free agents? What about Jared Gaither? Marshal Yanda, Davin Joseph, Harvey Dahl and Daryn Colledge were all available, too. Wouldn’t Robert Gallery have helped this team? Matt Light?
Could it have hurt to spend some money guys like this? Having room under the cap and reputable veteran players on the open market and deciding to maintain something close to the status quo coming off a season in which you surrender a league-high 56 sacks — that’s indefensible.