COMMENTARY | More often than not, the knock on Bears QB Jay Cutler has been his demeanor. He "doesn't really show lots of passion" for the game. After his performance in a Week 4 loss to the Lions that wasn't as close as the score indicates, I have a new knock on him: He's just not very good. His woeful performance is one of three areas in which the team failed to execute ...
It starts with the quarterback
It's not that Jay Cutler threw three interceptions and fumbled ... it's when he committed his turnovers. At 6:09 in the second quarter, Detroit pulled ahead on a Matthew Stafford sneak from the one, making the score 16-10. With the Ford Field crowd now energized, the Bears needed an answer. Instead, Cutler lobbed his very first attempt right into the waiting arms of Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch. It then took Stafford four seconds to connect with WR Calvin Johnson, putting Detroit up 23-10.
Now at full roar, the crowd was relentless -- and Cutler could have silenced them with a well-executed drive that took time off the clock and put points on the scoreboard. Instead, he led a three-and-out which netted minus-three yards. With the ball back and full momentum, the Lions punched it in for another touchdown, making the score 30-10 and turning a competitive game into a laugher.
In the second half, the Bears' defense snuffed out another promising Lions drive by intercepting Stafford at the Chicago eight. Three plays later, Cutler was strip-sacked by none other than Ndamukong Suh, which allowed fellow DT Nick Fairley to rumble in for another Lions score, making it 37-16 and effectively sealing the win for Detroit.
Paging the defense
All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers finished the game with six tackles and a sack, but really was a non-factor in the game. In fact, he's been a non-factor the entire season. Playing winning defense in the NFL starts with getting pressure on the QB from the front four; the Lions proved this by taking Cutler down three times for 31 yards. Meanwhile, Stafford had all day to pick apart the Bears' secondary and convert critical first downs.
Lions running back Reggie Bush finished with 139 rushing yards. Detroit ended the game with 23 first downs. The Bears also fell short in time of possession. While Cutler did his defense no favors with his terrible afternoon, Chicago's defense boasts All-Pro talent at both corners and on the defensive line and Pro-Bowl talent at linebacker. Giving up 27 points in a game is bad enough; giving up 27 in a quarter is inexcusable.
A hole too deep
In its previous wins against the Bengals and Vikings, Chicago appeared lethargic and disinterested in the first half, only to snap out of it and win the game late. This time, the hole was too deep. Bears head coach Marc Trestman, who I have doubts about, made some quality second-half adjustments, evidenced by the Bears holding the Lions to 10 points over the final two quarters. However, that is of little consequence when you give up 30 in the first two. Trestman has a solid team with veteran leadership and good talent, but a pattern has emerged in this young season: His teams get lax, fall behind in the first half and have to rally.
I predicted the Bears would be 3-1 at this point, so having just one loss and being tied for first is a good position to hold at the quarter-point of the season. However, real concerns remain for this team. In their next five games, the Bears have to face the Saints, Giants and Redskins before the bye week, then return to encounter the Packers and host a rematch with the Lions. All five of those teams feature something that gives the Bears can't consistently match: Solid play at the QB position, as evidenced by Cutler's 65.6 rating against a Lions defense ranked 19th in the NFL.
The key to weathering this tough stretch of the schedule will be solid play from Cutler. Success in the NFL truly does start with the quarterback, and for the Bears to seriously compete for championships, No. 6 can't be the source of four turnovers.
Doc Hopkins has followed Chicago sports for decades. He has worked in sports media over 10 years and has been published in the Chicago Tribune. Find him on Twitter @SupermanHopkins or leave him a comment below.
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