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Hanley: Cutler & Williams Talking Like Pros

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears waits for officials to make a replay call against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears waits for officials to make a replay call against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.

Brian-Hanley Brian Hanley
I was born in 1960 on the westside of Chicago at the venerable St....
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Good to hear Jay Cutler and Roy Williams say all the right things Wednesday.

Of Course, Mike Martz said all the right things a week ago — just days before the offense didn’t do much of anything right in their 27-17 home loss to Green Bay.

“It doesn’t really matter what defense we’re going against, who it is. It’s about us and us going out there and executing,” said Cutler. “We’ve got to convert on third downs.

“That ties into the rest of that stuff. If we’re converting third downs … giving ourselves a manageable third down, those third-and-longs, at the end of the day we’re not going to be able to convert a high rate of those, so first and second down, getting enough yards to put ourselves in a position to be successful on third and keep the chains moving and keep the clock moving and keep our defense off the field.”

Giving the opposing offense about a full quarter to operate, as the Bears have the last two weeks, is a recipe for disaster.

The Bears (1-2) rank 29th in the converting third downs (11-for-40). There’s the time of possession difference of about 15 minutes in the two losses. Cutler has struggled on third down. He’s converted 17-of-34 passes for 192 yards and has a 64.8 passer rating on third down.

So what now? Blow up the Martz volume offense?

“We’re more than a year into this offense and this is what we do, and you know we’re not going to change it,” Cutler said. “You can’t halfway just decide to overhaul the offense. It’s not possible. It’s not realistic. We’re just going to have to get better at the offense we’re running right now and execute it on a consistent basis.”

Which means the Bears receivers have to be a whole lot better than they have been to this point. Catch the easy passes. Fight for the tight throws.

“It was my fault, put it on me,” Williams said of his zero catches against Green Bay. “Especially the touchdown. I have strong enough hands to hold on to that ball even with the contact that I got. Great hit by him, but I still have to hold on to that ball.

“The four balls that I got, I should have caught them.”

Williams didn’t blame the groin injury which kept him out of the loss at New Orleans for his troubles Sunday vs. the Packers.

“I’m good to play,” Williams said. “It’s just sitting on the sideline sometimes it gets cold, especially in the Chicago weather where it’s chilly and not as hot. So I just have to keep that thing warm. That’s why I get on the [stationary] bike.”

The Bears may just be spinning their wheels when chasing a playoff berth if the offense doesn’t get its act together Sunday at home against the Carolina Panthers (1-2). Trailing both Green Bay and Detroit by two games already, the Bears can’t afford a loss to Carolina, a six-point underdog.

“I don’t think we need to go that far,” Cutler said when asked about this being must-win time. “This is an important game for us. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to do everything possible to win. There is a lot of football left and there are a lot of things that can happen. I don’t think we need to start panicking yet.”

Hope Cutler is as right about that as he is about the offense.

One question for Jeff Pearlman: Why?

Was it really necessary to write an expose of one of Chicago’s icons?

The book, “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton,” alleges that Payton was involved in several extra-marital affairs. The author also cites sources who claimed Payton routinely mixed a cocktail of Tylenol and Vicodin following his playing days.Pearlman also learned from his interviews that both Payton’s wife, Connie — from whom he had been estranged — and his mistress attended his Hall of Fame induction in 1993. The two women met for the first time shortly thereafter.Payton’s former agent and executive assistant also recall receiving calls at all hours of the day from him, threatening to end his life, the book reports.

“Walter, like all of us, wasn’t perfect,”  a statement from Payton’s wife Connie, his family and the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation said. “The challenges he faced were well known to those of us who loved and lived with him. He was a great father to Jarrett and Brittney and held a special place in the football world and the Chicago community.

Recent disclosures — some true, some untrue — do not change this. I’m saddened that anyone would attempt to profit from these stories, many told by people with little credibility.”

I, for one, won’t be buying the book. My memories of a happy, always-joking Walter are just fine, thanks.

Hope you will join Mully and me Thursday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m when we talk Chicago sports.

As always, thanks for listening.

–Hanley