17 completions in 36 attempts for 277 yards, one touchdown and four picks? After Jay Cutler's(notes) Bears debut in Green Bay, you could hear the Chicago faithful wondering if, instead of giving up two first-round picks, a third-rounder, and Kyle Orton(notes) for the ex-Bronco, Jerry Angelo should have just re-signed Rex Grossman(notes) and saved the picks. It's a bit early to pan the deal that so many thought had the Bears as a preseason Super Bowl favorite, but the people who watch quarterbacks for a living are concerned.
On ESPN's NFL Matchup this morning, Ron Jaworski shared his notes on Cutler's inaugural performance:
Reckless with the football;
Perceived pressure - running out of the pocket;
Inaccurate with his throws;
No hip flex;
Missed sight adjustments;
Eyeballing the receivers...
And that was just in the first half.
Well, if Cutler thought he had it tough against Dom Capers' 3-4, the Steelers' version (run by Dick LeBeau, the Optimus Prime of defensive coordinators) provides a far sterner test, Troy Polamalu(notes) or no. LeBeau sends pass rushers from every conceivable angle, in every possible practical combination, and Cutler's just going to have to deal with it. He's going to have to develop a consistent rapport with his new receivers, and it's going to take longer than Week 1. Odds are, expecting your new franchise quarterback to find his way against the Steelers isn't really smart.
Whether Cutler likes it or not, he's now with a team that is set up to win with rushing and defense, just like every single Bears team that preceded this one. And the key to beating the Steelers is not to put the ball in Jay Cutler's hands. The key is to make Ben Roethlisberger(notes) the overwhelmed, over-passing quarterback facing pressure from everywhere. Pittsburgh's offensive line is bad enough, and Chicago's defensive line is good enough, for that to happen. They have to get to Big Ben, actually tackle him (easier said than done), and rescue Matt Forte(notes) from whatever black hole he fell into last week. Try giving him the ball, guys. Screens or handoffs, it doesn't matter. The loss of Brian Urlacher(notes) is a blow, but the Steelers aren't running up the middle with any effectiveness right now.
The Bears have a winnable game here. They just have to go back to playing their brand of football to do it. Add Cutler to that recipe over time, and that's when they'll have something special.