Cutler's hot head, cold hand hurt Bears
By: By David Haugh, Chicago Tribune, Superior Telegram
GREEN BAY -- At the end of his 68-yard catch in the second quarter Sunday night at Lambeau Field, Bears rookie wide receiver Johnny Knox put a finger to his lips and his shook his head.
Knox was shushing the crowd.
He should have told his quarterback to pipe down too. Somebody sure needed to at some point during Cutler's worst night as an NFL quarterback in the Bears' 21-15 season-opening loss the Packers.
If nothing else, Cutler's first game with his new team guaranteed that Sundays in 2009 will be louder than ever for the Bears, and it has nothing to with crowd noise.
There was Cutler yelling at the back judge to throw a flag, screaming at tight end Desmond Clark to adjust his route, running his mouth constantly at teammates running their pass routes.
"It's still a learning process," Cutler said. "We haven't been together that long, but that's no excuse."
If Cutler really wanted a reason to rant, he should have asked long snapper Patrick Mannelly what he was thinking snapping to Garrett Wolfe on a fake punt on fourth-and-11 with the ball on the Bears' 31 that ultimately failed and led to Green Bay's go-ahead field goal.
Or barked at defensive backs Nathan Vasher and Al Afalava, who blew the coverage on Greg Jennings' 50-yard touchdown reception with 1 minute 11 seconds left to give the Packers their clinching score.
Clearly, Cutler's teammates and coaches will get plenty of advice this season - and earplugs too, if they're smart.
Just curious: Who's going to get in Cutler's face?
"It is tough," Cutler said. "I'm sure the city of Chicago is disappointed."
Before the Bears take on the Steelers, somebody at Halas Hall has to sit down the quarterback and reinforce that the offense will go as he goes. If he goes haywire, so will it.
Cutler's actions in the second half backed up his harsh words early on, but he didn't do enough to justify the outbursts. His fourth interception on the final drive - the first time in 38 NFL starts he has thrown so many - confirmed that.
The more Cutler yelled, the more frustrated of a tone he set. By the time Cutler had thrown his third pick in the first half, it was obvious the guy talking too much was trying too hard.
"I don't know if he lost poise or composure," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "I just know we all have to get better."
Bears players never will reveal if Cutler's on-field demeanor affected their focus. But they may wonder as they watch the videotape if Cutler seeing red affected the quarterback's ability to see Packers defenders in the passing lanes.
The Bears' offense eventually moved the ball because, while Cutler temporarily lost his poise, he never lost his confidence.
If Cutler had, he never could have hit Devin Hester in stride on a 36-yard touchdown pass. Or stood solidly in the pocket to find Clark on a key third-down conversion. Or heaved the ball to Knox on the 68-yard beauty over veteran Charles Woodson that looked like the Cutler so many Bears fans expected to see.
Knox's big-play ability will go down as one of the few pleasant surprises in Week 1. The breakdown of the secondary really should not have been a surprise.
On the pivotal play, Vasher squatted in zone coverage as if he expected safety help deep from Afalava. But the rookie bit on Rodgers' fake handoff, and that bought Jennings a split-second to get behind everybody.
That one play ruined an otherwise smart defensive game called by Lovie Smith. Ingeniously, the Bears found a way to pressure quarterback Aaron Rodgers and produce four sacks. Example: When nickel back Danieal Manning sacked Rodgers for a safety in the second quarter, the Packers never saw the blitz coming.
Smith's defense kept Rodgers in check despite losing middle linebacker Brian Urlacher for the second half with a dislocated right wrist.
But when it mattered most, Rodgers made a statement about why the Bears' defense respected him so much.
It resonated even louder than anything the Bears quarterback had to say.
-- (c) 2009, Chicago Tribune/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.