Hoge’s Bears-Packers Notebook: Cutler Upset With Offense
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By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) Jay Cutler isn’t happy.
After Lovie Smith and Mike Martz said all week that the Bears would be more balanced against the Packers, Cutler threw the ball 37 times and running back Matt Forte had just nine carries.
“We’re 0-and-2 doing this so it’s not looking very good,” Cutler said after the game.
That statement appeared to be directed at Martz, but can the play calling really be criticized when the Bears aren’t having any success running the football? Forte gained just two yards on his nine carries in the Bears’ 27-17 loss to the Packers, which forced Martz to call more passes.
Still, Cutler obviously wants to see more running plays called.
“I feel bad for (Forte) right now because he wants the ball, he wants to help out and we’re not giving him a lot of opportunities,” the quarterback said after the game.
Whether its Martz’s preference to the throw the ball or the Bears’ inability to run the ball, the Bears have to find some kind of running game if the offense wants to successful at all in 2011. Every offense – even a pass-happy offense – needs a consistent running game to throw opposing defenses off.
“It ain’t good, so yeah it’s frustrating,” Forte said when asked about not getting chances to run.
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And when asked about the offensive line blocking in front of him, Forte didn’t exactly give it a vote of confidence.
“We got to work harder,” he said. “They did pretty good protecting the quarterback, but we all got to get better.”
Smith credited the Packers for stopping the run, but center Roberto Garza put the blame on himself and the rest of the offensive line.
“It’s up to us to create that movement and to get (Forte) to the second level and we just weren’t doing that,” he said. “They’re obviously a good football team but we have to go out there and do our job better and obviously what we are doing right now isn’t good enough.”
Pass Protection ‘Adequate’
Forte was right about the offensive line blocking better for Cutler. The quarterback had enough time to throw the ball for the majority of the game and was only sacked three times, which for the Bears, is somewhat of a success.
“I thought we had adequate protection today to be able to make some plays,” Smith said after the game. “It’s not like all was lost today. We saw some improvement. Whenever you’re playing a couple new guys, you wonder going in, but I thought they held up for the most part with the passing game.”
Right tackle Frank Omiyale, who was filling in for the injured Gabe Carimi, was decent in pass protection, but it was obvious the Bears missed Carimi in the run game. Omiyale also was guilty of two false starts, including a big one immediately following a Brian Urlacher interception in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, despite the “adequate pass protection” left guard Chris Williams had another rough game. After a good preseason, Williams has struggled mightily the last two weeks.
Punt Play Called Back
The Bears nearly gave themselves a chance at a miracle in the final moments of the game when Johnny Knox returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown that would have brought the Bears within three points.
Unfortunately Corey Graham was called for a hold on what was a very strange play.
The Bears put both Knox and Hester back on the return and the entire Bears special teams unit ran towards Hester as if the ball was headed for him. The Packers’ coverage unit followed suit, which left Knox with a free side of the field to run for a touchdown.
That made Graham’s holding penalty very debatable because he was so far away from the ball. Officials don’t have to call a hold if it doesn’t have an effect on the outcome of the play.
“We were probably 40-yards away from the line and it was small but if you want to look at it that way I guess they called holding, it was holding,” Graham reluctantly said. “I just got to make a smarter decision. That was a great call by us and it’s unfortunate to get it called back in a situation like that.”
For more Bears coverage, follow Adam Hoge on Twitter (@AdamHogeCBS).
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his blogs here.