Cutler is not Bears’ biggest problem

Jay Cutler has not played well this season but trading him would not fix what ails the Chicago Bears, a team that lacks focus, direction, leadership, passion and pride.

Heading into last night’s contest, the New Orleans Saints ranked 31st in total defense, 29th in passing defense, 29th in rushing defense and 30th in points allowed.

The Saints have been pushed aside by nearly every offense they’ve faced this year. Yet on Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears managed just 278 total yards and 15 points.

Against one of the worst defenses in the league, the Bears went 2 for 12 on third down, 0 for 2 on fourth down, and passed for just 153 yards.

It was a listless, apathetic effort from Jay Cutler, who finished with a season-low 55.8 QB rating. His three interceptions give him 24 turnovers on the year, which is far and away the most in the NFL.

On national television, Cutler and the offense showed just how far they’ve fallen.

In the aftermath, folks are calling for Cutler’s head on a stick. Chicago radio stations are being flooded with callers demanding he be traded, even if the Bears only get a dented bumper in return.

Watching Cutler throw inaccurate passes, lock onto targets and never once look off a safety has understandably worn down the Windy City masses.

The problem is that even if the Bears could trade Cutler – and the likelihood of that is slim to none – it will be just a Band Aid on a gaping open wound.

Under general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman, the Monsters of the Midway are anything but monsters. In fact, against teams with winning records this year, the Bears have been little more than a speed bump.

The problems begin with Emery, who upon taking the position set the team back for years by wasting his first draft pick on Shea McClellin. It was a sign of things to come. Emery has had only a few good draft picks (Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long and possibly Kyle Fuller, although that’s debatable at this point) and a bucket full of misses (McClellin, Brandon Hardin, Evan Rodriguez, Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene, Jordan Mills).

In free agency, Emery was wise to acquire Brandon Marshall for a bargain price and Martellus Bennett is his crown jewel, yet he’s gotten very little impact from Jared Allen, Jermon Bushrod, Lamarr Houston, D.J. Williams, Josh Morgan and Jeremiah Ratliff.

Emery also broke the bank in re-signing Jay Cutler, a move that has come back to bite the entire organization, and he also chose Marc Trestman to run the team.

Trestman this year has exerted no control over his staff or players. His hands-off approach has given the players too much leeway, of which they’ve taken advantage. Players don’t get punished for their behavior, either on or off the field, while coaches can say anything and produce very little without fear of losing their jobs.

In addition, Trestman’s offense has been comically inept this season. His insistence on a short-passing attack, one that utilizes just four pass catchers, is overly simplistic. Other than Jeffery, Marshall, Bennett and Matt Forte, no other player on the roster has been targeted more than 19 times this year. Opposing defenses have to game plan for just four players, knowing Cutler isn’t going to throw to anyone else.

Also, Trestman absolutely refuses to utilize his run game to its fullest potential. Ka’Deem Carey has just 36 carries this year, which is a travesty. The combination of Carey between the tackles and Forte out in space is the type of running game that could carry this offense. Yet Forte is far too often ignored and Carey is an afterthought.

Defensively, the performance this season is easily the worst in the 95-year history of the organization. Currently, the Bears rank 32nd in points allowed, 30th in total defense and 31st in passing defense. They’ve allowed between 31 and 55 points in five of the club’s last seven games, including back-to-back 50 burgers to the Packers and Patriots.

Finally, the Bears have the worst special teams in the NFL, and it’s not even close. Last night, Chicago incurred four special teams penalties, including a fake punt with just 10 players on the field. Under coordinator Joe DeCamillis, the Bears’ special teams are a laughing stock.

So while Cutler is a big part of the problem, purging him from the roster won’t help much unless ownership makes significant changes this offseason.

There’s almost no chance the Bears will retain Trestman and the coaching staff. Mel Tucker, Aaron Kromer and DeCamillis all have one foot out the door. There’s no way you can eliminate an entire coaching staff yet then come out and say with a straight face you still feel Trestman is the right man for the job. Schematically and, more importantly, authoritatively, he’s in way over his head.

And if chairman George McCaskey wants to truly institute change, he’ll give Emery his walking papers as well.

The days of making excuses for Cutler are over. First it was his offensive line, then it was his lack of receivers, then it was Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice, and now it’s Trestman taking the blame for Cutler’s poor play.

Yet Cutler isn’t going anywhere, a reality with which Bears fans must come to terms.

The only way to truly derail this borderline-unwatchable train wreck is to swing a heavy axe and start over. Anything else will result in nothing but the same in 2015, Cutler or no Cutler.



Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.

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