It's one thing to get waxed in a football game -- that unpleasant sensation invariably happens to the best of the NFL's players. Tom Brady has thrown four interceptions in a game six times in his NFL career, and had a quarterback rating of 22.5 in a 2003 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Aaron Rodgers once completed 15 of 34 passes for 170 yards and no touchdowns, and even Joe Montana and John Elway had their mortal moments.
However, when you talk trash to the opposing team before the game, and then throw a bunch of even more odiferous garbage around the field in a loss ... well, you have what amounted to a very bad week for quarterback Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears. Not to mention, the other team has every right to talk right back at you.
Packers defensive back Charles Woodson put it best after the game. "Same old Jay. We don't need luck -- we just need to be in position. Jay will throw us the ball."
It started on Tuesday, when Cutler, fresh off an impressive Sunday outing against the Indianapolis Colts, stirred things up by saying that the Packers' defense could bring whatever it wanted.
"Good luck," Cutler said to his future tormentors. "Our speed guys are going to get around them and our big guys are going to throw and go ... We invite press coverage. We invite man. And if we get in that type of game, our guys outside have to make some plays for us."
"It's all about matchups," receiver Brandon Marshall said on the same day. "I'm 6-5, 230 pounds and there's not too many DB's walking around that big. If they want to get physical, I do welcome that."
The Bears did not make plays, nor did they win any matchups, in a 23-10 disaster that was nowhere near as competitive as the score indicated -- the Bears had zero net yards at the end of the first quarter, and Cutler was 7 of 18 for 70 yards and two interceptions after three quarters were done. He finished the game with 11 completions in 27 attempts for 126 yards, one touchdown, and four picks. At least five more passes could have easily been intercepted, and Cutler's 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis came in the very definition of "garbage time."
"Can't really play any worse than we did tonight and expect to win games," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "We know that we have to take care of the ball, be sharp and move the ball and get it into the end zone and we'll have a chance."
If you took out the 52 yards Cutler lost on the seven sacks the Packers racked up, Chicago's big-ticket guy sulked off the field having progressed a total of 74 yards. Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews had 3.5 sacks on his own, and the Packers combined for 12 quarterback hits.
"We heard it -- we hear everything," Matthews told Rich Eisen of the NFL Network after the game. "But I like our guys. I like Charles Woodson, I like Tramon Williams, and I'll put them up against anyone in the league. Brandon Marshall's a heck of an athlete, and Cutler's got an arm. They made some plays last week, but our guys came up big."
Cutler failed to do that in every possible way. All of his worst tendencies came out in this game. He threw passes he should not have with terrible mechanics and nightmarish footwork. He embarrassed his teammates by yelling at them in plain sight, even as he was making those abysmal throws. He pouted on the sideline, started fights, and in no way resembled the kind of leader every great quarterback must be. At one point, Cutler pushed left tackle J'Marcus Webb aside as the Bears were coming off the field. At another, he slammed the ball to the ground and started barking at everyone when the Bears drew a delay of game infraction.
"Maybe we're not as good as we thought we were," Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher hypothesized. "We've got a long ways to go and that's obvious. Maybe Green Bay's just that good, I don't know, but we didn't play well and they played good enough to do what they did to us."
"I care about this," Cutler said after the game, when asked why he was unable to keep his emotions in check. "This isn't a hobby for me. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm trying to win football games and trying to get first downs. When we're not doing the little things the right way, I'm going to say something. If they want a quarterback who doesn't care, they can get somebody else."
Of course, it wasn't all his fault. When Cutler did throw catchable passes, his receivers frequently missed them, and his protection was absolutely inexcusable. Webb, who bore the brunt of Cutler's ire as well as the unstoppable dynamism of Matthews, was a human turnstile all night long. He provided a convenient escort to Cutler when he wasn't producing holds of the called and uncalled variety.
"He lined up on me all night, and I got myself into trouble by not using my hands and not using my feet at times, and it showed," Webb said of his matchups with Matthews.
Running back Matt Forte was hurt in the game, which meant that most of Chicago's offense went out the window. Receiver Brandon Marshall, who was supposed to be Cutler's elite target after the Bears traded for him in the offseason, failed to catch an easy pass in the end zone and didn't bring in a ball until the fourth quarter. Earl Bennett, Cutler's teammate at Vanderbilt, failed to come back on one pass, and that allowed Woodson to come up with an easy pick. It was disaster after debacle after dumpster fire for a Bears offense that was thought to be one of the NFL's best on paper before the game.
Because of the Thursday night timing of this game, Cutler and the Bears will have until Sunday, Sept. 23 to think this one over. They'll then take on the St. Louis Rams. Until then, Cutler should keep his head in the game, and his mouth firmly shut.
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