1. There is plenty to get to with quarterback Jay Cutler, who had another lousy outing against the Packers, and his wide receivers that did a sudden disappearing act. But coaches also tell you it starts up front so what better place to evaluate this game than in the trenches. Cutler took seven sacks which is the second-most in his career behind only the nine-sack meltdown in the first half of the Oct. 3, 2010 game against the Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.
"He didn't have a lot of time tonight," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "I think it’s safe to say that."
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews had 3½ sacks to give him six for the season and match his output from all of last year. You might recall Jared Allen posted 3 ½ sacks lining up primarily over left tackle J’Marcus Webb in the Week 17 meeting with the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome last season. Matthews was far too much for Webb to handle and when the NFL finishes reviewing the replacement referees, they will see multiple holding penalties that Webb got away with. There was a two-point takedown that went uncalled at one point.
"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.
I asked Matthews if he was surprised the Bears didn’t do more to help Webb – and he did get help. One of Matthews' sacks came when he defeated Webb and running back Michael Bush to get to Cutler.
"I don't think they can specifically help one person with the talent that we have up front," Matthews said. "I think it is going to be difficult. Guys have really stepped their game up. We have added some young talent and have people across the board going after the quarterback so it is going to be very difficult to single in on one guy."
It is alarming because the shift in the offensive philosophy was supposed to make the line better. Now, you have to wonder if against a defense with an elite pass rusher the Bears are going to be in for a rough ride. They host the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field on Sept. 23 and then they are back in the prime-time spotlight at Dallas on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" on Oct. 1. Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is a more accomplished pass rusher than Matthews and Dallas utilizes a 3-4 scheme. Could the Bears be headed for another disaster there? You can't discount the possibility.
Cutler was clearly wearing his frustration on his face. That is what seven sacks and four interceptions will do to a quarterback. He let his linemen have it. He got after center Roberto Garza on the field for a delay of game call. He got after Webb. He got after receivers.
"Just frustration more or less," Webb said. "We really had to score there so that was him just saying 'Let's pick it up, let's get it together.' "
The Bears never did get it together and now it's worth wondering how long the offensive line will stay together. I don't sense Mike Tice will make a knee-jerk reaction based on one lousy outing. But I would imagine the leash is short and maybe getting shorter for Webb. Chris Williams could step in for him. Newly signed Jonathan Scott could get up to speed in the offense in a few weeks. But swapping out left tackles right now probably will not be the solution to everything that ails the Bears in the trenches.
What is most disappointing is the new playbook that was supposed to create a sturdy pocket for Cutler looked a lot like the old one. Sure, circumstances conspired against the Bears when they fell behind by two touchdowns, but this was ugly all the way around and Cutler isn’t going to be taken to the turf repeatedly and not act out.
"I care about this," Cutler said. "This isn't a hobby for me. I am not doing this for my health. I am trying to win football games and trying to get first downs. When we are not doing the little things, doing things the right way consistently, I am going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn’t care, they can find someone else."
2. The Packers would likely prefer the Bears don't find someone else. They have Cutler's number at this point as Green Bay has now captured seven of the last eight in the series since Cutler began his career with the Bears in the 2009 season opener at Lambeau Field. One of the seven losses came a year ago when Josh McCown started in place of Cutler.
The offensive line is largely responsible for seven sacks and Cutler is to blame for four interceptions for bad mechanics driven in part by ego. When he throws off his back off, as he did repeatedly, bad things can happen. They tend to in bunches against the Packers. In the seven games now as a Bear, Cutler is 115 of 216 (53.2 percent) for 1,383 yards with seven touchdowns, 16 interceptions and 26 sacks. It adds up to a passer rating of 53.1.
It is difficult to compete with the team to beat in the division when the quarterback is performing that poorly. But the Packers didn't seem the least bit surprised, not even with Cutler now armed with bigger wide receivers. Of course, Cutler had said "good luck" earlier in the week when asked if the Packers would be able to play the physical brand of man coverage they have in the past.
"I don't know if we took it personal, but we thought it was kind of funny that all of a sudden they're the team to beat because they've got a couple new guys," Green Bay safety Charles Woodson said. "We played against Jay 100 times. We know Jay."