Jay Cutler needs to be more accountable for his own actions, maintain his poise and make smarter decisions if the Chicago Bears are to rebound this week.
The Bears should be able to handle the St. Louis Rams at home, but if Cutler implodes after early pressure again, it could set off another futile chain reaction.
Cutler flipped out on his left tackle J'Marcus Webb after he allowed a sack to Clay Matthews. Webb was really a scapegoat as none of the Bears offensive linemen played well—except Lance Louis.
The Bears went from riding high after a 41-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, to crashing and burning on Thursday in Green Bay. The pass protection was the major reason for the fall-off.
The Bears will need a better effort up front this week.
The Rams don't have a player as dynamic as Matthews, but Chris Long and Robert Quinn are capable pass-rushers. If they can get in the backfield, this game will be very close.
Last week, St. Louis was aided by a bone-headed penalty from Washington Redskins' receiver Josh Morgan. His personal foul pushed his team out of field goal range, and the Rams held on for a 31-28 win. In Week 1 they fell short in a close, but high-scoring affair.
The Detroit Lions rallied to knock them off 27-23. The Rams will now be looking to put together a win streak in Chicago.
Here is the information needed to catch the action and some deeper analysis of this matchup.
When: Sunday, September 23, 1:00 PM ET
Where: Soldier Field in Chicago, IL
Live Stream: DirecTV Sunday Ticket (Pay Service)
Radio: NFL Audio Pass ($29.99 for the season), WBBM 780 AM in Chicago and WXOS 101.1 FM in St. Louis
Odds: Chicago Bears Favored (-7) per Oddsshark.com
Injury Report: Chicago Bears
Injury Report: St. Louis Rams
Anthony Stalter of 101 ESPN Sports Radio St. Louis reported via Twitter that Steven Jackson is likely to start:
Stalter (@AnthonyStalter) September 17, 2012
What's At Stake?
The Bears need to rebound badly. The only thing that can remove the nasty taste from Thursday's loss is a solid win on Sunday.
Aside from Cutler's lack of poise, the O-Line's gaffes, and a few miscues, the Bears didn't play horribly. This is a game they should win at home. They must find a way to come out on top and keep things from going sour on the field, and in the locker room.
D.J. Moore publicly criticized Cutler's actions on the sidelines after the blowup, according Rick Morrissey of Chicago Sun-Times. Another loss could create more negative reactions and damage team chemistry.
The Rams would love to start a win streak. They probably believe they should be undefeated, and they'll likely carry that disposition into the game.
This game could go a long way in defining who they are this season.
What They're Saying
The following comment from Jay Cutler comes from an ESPN 1000 Radio broadcast of The Waddle and Silvy Show, but the text is posted on Jeff Dickerson's ESPN Bears Blog.
Looking back at that game and watching it, I'm actually proud of that game. I told (Bears quarterbacks coach) Jeremy Bates that.
I thought I fought, I thought I competed hard. (I) made a few errant throws, but whenever we got what we were looking for I put the ball on the money for the most part.
I think I had my composure, and I think I had my composure the whole game. We got beat, we got beat by a good football team. Offensively, it starts with me, so I got to play better, and it trickles down. It started early on in that game and it never got better.
Generally I wouldn't use a quote this long, but I thought it was necessary to grasp the lunacy and delusional lack of accountability from the Bears "leader."
You're proud of that game?
This clearly illustrates what the Bears have, and will always have, in Cutler. He is the type of player that needs things functioning optimally in order to maintain his composure. Despite what he says, no one that watched that game would call Cutler's behavior poised.
At some point Cutler needs to mature if he's going to lead them anywhere.
As for the Rams rumblings:
Steven Jackson is especially happy with the team's new weapons on offense. After carrying so much of the offensive load for years, he recognizes he has help this season. He is quoted by Nick Wagoner of StLouisRams.com:
I did realize that I don’t have to do everything and it’s such a relief. This team is special and I’m enjoying it. I’m going home with a smile and I’m going to work just as hard to get back for Chicago.
I wouldn't exactly call the Rams' offense special, but it is improved. Jackson played limited time in Week 2. The Rams are averaging 27 points per game with him in a more limited role.
Bears Player To Watch: J'Marcus Webb
Webb is one of the worst left tackles in the NFL, that is no secret. Bleacher Report's resident NFL-expert Matt Miller rated Webb No. 28 in the league.
Cutler's blow-up on Thursday made that obvious to those that weren't currently aware.
He won't exactly get a break this week, but Long is not the same type of threat as Matthews. This is a good opportunity for Webb to regain some confidence, and impress the coaching staff.
If he doesn't shine soon, he could be benched.
Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs tweeted:
Coaching staff knows what it has in Chris Williams. So, wouldn't be surprised if newcomer Jonathan Scott is being evaluated closely.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) September 19, 2012
Rams Player To Watch: Sam Bradford
Bradford seems to have turned the corner under Jeff Fisher. His QB rating is 112.4 through two games, and he has a completion percentage of 71.7.
The Bears' Cover 2 scheme works to force a quarterback into mistakes. Bradford has made few through two games this season.
If he can continue to minimize miscues, the Rams will have a great chance to win.
Key Matchup: J'Marcus Webb vs. Chris Long
This matchup could possibly affect everything the Bears plan to do on offense. If Webb has another subpar game it will likely lead to another poor performance from Cutler.
The Bears can't win that way.
If Long records two sacks and multiple pressures, the Bears will be in trouble and beyond.
As dysfunctional as the Bears looked Thursday night, it was just one game. Cutler's actions made it easy to overreact, but in reality this is still a solid team.
Playing in Soldier Field with what should be a fired up offensive line should help. The Bears defense has been very good through two games. Despite giving up 20-plus points in both games, they have made big plays and forced seven turnovers.
They will carry the torch again, but this time the O-Line will perform as well. The Bears will win 32-20.
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