10:36 AM EDT, May 15, 2012
Jay Cutler apparently is fed up with being run down. And thrown down. And beaten down and beaten up.
And if the Bears quarterback had to pants his head coach to make things better, then fine, Cutler will offer cold-eyed honesty that ought to embarrass Lovie Smith.
The issue is the offensive line, such as it is, and it isn’t enough for Cutler. Speaking at a school on the South Side on Monday, Cutler sounded like a guy who doesn’t want to die young.
"The offensive line is definitely going to be a concern," Cutler said, "and seeing where those guys fit in and seeing what five we go with. You know, if Gabe (Carimi) comes back, if J'Marcus (Webb) pans out (and) Chris Williams, where we're going to put him ... there are some question marks there. Until we really get that resolved, get our front five settled, we've got some work to do on the offense."
That’s what you’d expect a coach to say, but the Bears coach hasn’t said that. He won’t. Or can’t. Whatever, it was left to the quarterback who was sacked at least 50 times the last two seasons and was on pace to reach that painful mark again last season before suffering a thumb injury.
When given a chance to make nice with his blockers, Cutler passed. He refused to say “All better’’ when tossed a softball question about new offensive coordinator Mike Tice’s tailoring an offense that includes designed rollouts, audibles and other sensible ideas that eluded the insane Mike Martz.
"It helps," Cutler said. "It's not a cure-all by any means. They're still going to be asked to protect. There are going to be times it's third-and-8, it's third-and-10, we're going to have to take seven steps, we're going to have to have a longer route, and they're going to have to protect."
Again, that’s the quarterback talking. Where’s the head coach with that kind of frankness?
Nowhere, that’s where.
Compare and contrast Cutler’s comments with the ridiculousness the head coach foisted on us during the NFL meetings in Florida two months ago.
“I don’t want to picture it as we’re looking for a left tackle," Smith said. “We feel comfortable with the two guys (J’Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi) we started with last year. We like the group of offensive lineman we have right now. We feel we can be successful with them."
The quarterback isn’t buying what the coach was shoveling. Facing near-death will do that to you.
When told that Webb allowed a league-high 14 sacks and committed a league-high eight false starts, Smith said, "You can make a case and throw out stats on what he did. But I think it's hard for all tackles by themselves in the league to block Julius Peppers from time to time.’’
Note to Smith: Webb doesn’t block Peppers except maybe in practice, and probably not there.
Raise your hand if you believe it would take a Cutler beheading for Smith to admit the offensive line might’ve missed an assignment.
Remember when Smith was big on public accountability? Smith tends to windsock with that. He has spasms of refreshing honesty, but apparently hates himself for it, and so, he ultimately crawls back to lamely trying to defend the left tackle who led the NFL in being awful. In a court of law, Webb would be convicted of aiding and abetting, and Smith would be charged as a co-conspirator.
The quotes from Cutler and Smith differ so starkly that it’s laughable. I’ll trust the assessment from the guy taking snaps over the guy on the sideline. Cutler is running for his life. That’s intimate knowledge. Smith looks like he still can’t figure out why everybody else’s offensive line beats his three-technique.
“Any tackle in the league can look bad at times,” Smith also said in March as he vainly attempted to put a happy face on last season’s Webbisode. “There are some things we can do to help him out at times, which we plan to do. We feel we have a good plan at the left tackle position. If we end up playing J’Marcus Webb at the left tackle position, we feel comfortable with that.”
Of course Smith feels comfortable. It’s not his concussion.
The good news is, Cutler’s brain isn’t totally Jell-O’ed. He still makes sense. He gave Bears fans credit for seeing the same thing he saw --- the same thing he painfully endured. Cutler also called out his blockers, but in a way that challenged them, not coddled them the way Smith does publicly.
This wouldn’t be the first time Smith tried to make points with his locker room. I don’t know if he’s playing the media and Bears fans for stupid, but he’s playing to his profile as a player’s coach, which is code for defending the indefensible.
Smith chooses to block out all the negativity -- you know, the things we call the truth -- but at least someone can block something.