Offensively speaking, the Bears went from the penthouse to the outhouse in one game, and now there are numerous questions about the future.
While the Bears as a team were merely beaten 17-3 Sunday night, quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Todd Collins were beaten up. The Bears were sacked an unheard of 10 times, nine in the first half. Cutler was the unlucky recipient of the first-half onslaught, and somewhere along the way he suffered a concussion that prevented him from coming out for the second half. Cutler was hit so hard and so frequently that not even Bears coach Lovie Smith was sure which blow did the damage.
"It's hard to say exactly when," Smith said. "We have to protect him more."
There's the understatement of the young season. The bigger question is how long the shell-shocked Cutler will need to recover from the damage inflicted upon him in the first half.
It may have been the cumulative effect of overwhelming and incessant pressure that the Bears were helpless to stop. Cutler was able to get rid of the ball only 11 times amid the nine sacks, and although he completed eight passes, they totaled just 42 yards. That left the Bears with minus-13 passing yards at the half and Cutler, who was picked off once, with a passer rating of 40.7.
The Bears came in undefeated but left a damaged team, despite a 3-1 record.
"We realize how it looked," Smith said, "which was bad. When you get pressure like that, it's tough to do anything."
Backup quarterback Todd Collins didn't fare any better in his first appearance as a Bear than Cutler did. He completed 4 of 11 passes for 36 yards and was intercepted once, before he, too, was driven from the game with a stinger and a passer rating of 8.1.
It's highly questionable that Cutler will be able to play against the Panthers Sunday, but Collins said he should be OK.
"My neck's a little stiff, but other than that I'm OK," Collins said. "I didn't do very well. My job is to score points, and I didn't do that. I played poorly."
Asked if he would be able to play Sunday, Collins said, "I don't see why not."
In each of the previous two weeks the Bears faced intense pass-rush pressure early in the game, but offensive coordinator Mike Martz made the adjustments that allowed his team to take advantage of aggressive defense. There were no such adjustments Sunday night in the prime-time embarrassment. The Bears and Martz never devised an antidote for a pass rush that came in waves and from all directions. What was different about the Giants than what the Cowboys and Packers tried to do?
"That's the question," Smith said. "Sometimes [the adjustments] just don't work."
BY THE NUMBERS
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