During Sunday night's loss to the Giants, Jay Cutler was sacked -- say it with us -- nine times. The hard hits took a large toll on the quarterback, knocking him out of the game after the first half. Who is to blame for the pain inflicted on the franchise quarterback?
Jay Cutler: The QB himself didn't help the cause. Cutler was guild holding onto the ball for too long after the snap. Instead of using the two- and three-step drops that he had established in the games against the Cowboys and Packers, Cutler defaulted back to taking five or six steps before considering where to send the ball to. Considering how many times he was hit from the back, he had little awareness of just how many Giants were swarming him on every single play. Of course, after the third or fourth sack, it's fair to assume that Cutler's decision-making was not at its best.
The coaches: Lovie Smith and his offensive coordinator Mike Martz opened up Cutler to much punishment by sticking with an offensive scheme that is famous for beating down quarterbacks. Kurt Warner, who won a Super Bowl with the Rams and Martz in 1999, still blames the many hits he took under Martz's scheme for a dip in the middle of his career.
Doesn't Cutler, the man whom the Bears pinned their hopes upon, deserve better? The Bears need to learn from the mistakes that stunted Warner's career, not repeat them. Smith has shown, via the benchings of Tommie Harris and Devin Aromashodu, that accountability is key to the Bears' success. How about holding Martz to the same standard?
The offensive line: The numbers don't lie. In the NFL, Cutler is not only the leader being sacked the most (17) but also leads the NFL in having given up the most yards due to sacks (94). The offensive line is not doing what they're supposed to do.
Unfortunately, the O-line's depth is paper thin. Frank Omiyale barely seemed able to block, but his replacement J'Marcus Webb didn't fare any better. Lance Louis left the game with a knee injury which means Johan Asiata, the back-up guard, may be pushed into a starting spot Sunday. The Bears don't have the option to sit offensive linemen as they do with defensive linemen and skill players. They can't change the players, but they can change the game by being clear on their assignments, and working with their QB on every single play.
With nine sacks, there is plenty of blame to go around. For the Bears to get back to their winning ways, the team has to accept responsibility, fix what's wrong and move along.