We Bears fans were ready. We waited all day for one of our most anticipated seasons to begin. "The Jay Cutler Season"...the season of hope.
I can't remember the last time this many Bears fans were this excited. The hope and feel from training camp—the sheer numbers of faithful that trucked to the middle of Illinois and stand in huge crowds, just to get a glimpse of our future. Our new star!
Finally we had a franchise quarterback.
The message boards and talk radio callers and newspaper articles bursted with excitement—everyone loving what Jerry Angelo did in the offseason to encourage so much hope. We were sick of mediocre quarterback play, and J.A. did something about it.
And then last night happened. Cutler came out and felt the pressure. Not only from the linebackers, safeties, and Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme...he felt it from all the Bear fans with that hope.
I have no idea how much pressure is on an NFL quarterback. It's got to be a lot. The money, the expectations...all of it. Add that normal pressure to this: That this team TRADES to get you. That must make you feel pretty good, wanted. At the same time, you know that you have to perform. You don't want to let them down. They gave up TWO first round picks to get you.
The franchise has been without a quarterback for so long. Just more weight on your shoulders. What's more? Your FIRST GAME you have to go to the hated rival's home. The quintessential NFL rivalry game. And guess what? They are going to make it the PRIME TIME game of the week. For ALL the country to see. Talk about pressure!
After thinking about all this last night, after the game, then reading message boards with calls to "BENCH CUTLER!" and "we gave up too much!" (and I'm sure as I type this, some Bear fan is talking to a sports talk radio personality with ideas about why Kyle Orton is better and we didn't need to make the trade), do you know what I was thinking?
Did the Bears and NFL just set Jay Cutler up to fail? Of course not; not intentionally. I don't think it's something like that. What if the Bears got, say, Detroit in the season opener? Do you think people would be calling for Cutler's head after that game? Not so much.
I beg the "normal" Bears fans to give the guy a break—he will be better...I promise! Let's not act like the fans of the past two years! Please do not throw him under the bus after one game...hell, after one season! Give this quarterback a chance. We have to. We gave up so much to get him.
Unlike in years past, when Cutler threw the ball, he knew where it was going. He planned for it to go there. The problem last night was the receiver didn't go there!
On at least two of Cutler's interceptions last night, the receiver broke off his route after the ball was in the air. One thing we learned very clearly—Cutler trusts his arm. He will try and fit a ball into spots, and we need our very inexperienced receivers to trust that as well.
That's the difference—that's why I can promise it will get better. Coach up the wideouts and tight ends, and we are fine. We didn't see any passes that you ask yourself "What was he thinking?" No "throw off the back foot; I just want this thing out of my hands" type of plays.
Please, Bears fans—let's not treat this quarterback like the last one that helped take us to the Super Bowl!