Bernstein: Without Cutler, Bears In Chaos

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) I guess we have the most practical definition yet of Franchise Quarterback.

When he breaks his thumb, the franchise falls apart.

It’s easy to include the injury to Matt Forte in this disaster – and the Bears are better with him than without him, certainly – but let’s be real about what’s going on here. Jay Cutler’s injury has thrown the Bears into a death spiral.

He goes out and everything bad gets exposed at every level. Three excruciating losses to beatable teams have created a toxic mess that is only beginning to intensify, imperiling the respective futures of coaches and executives.

Who knew a metacarpal bone could bear so much weight?

Cutler’s timing, accuracy, athleticism and guts made bad wide receivers look decent and a misfit offensive line appear competent. In a bizarre way, he even made us think Caleb Hanie was better than he is, since he made us overrate everything else: we assumed the kid would be OK when plugged into the offense, not quite fully understanding how many deficiencies were being disguised.

Now, the lack of talent on the roster appears obvious, the offensive system is too arcane to function properly or include others who could possibly help, defense and special teams are asked to do too much, and Halas Hall is abuzz with gossip, whispers and agendas.

Mike Martz started floating rumors about himself when college jobs opened, then expressed sour indignation about it when nobody wanted to hire him. Lovie Smith insisted he’d know about anything going on with his offensive coordinator, even as the general manager was hinting that the offense was part of the problem.

Meantime, someone is reigniting the retirement rumors for Jerry Angelo. Is this coming from above, sending the message that he can exit with dignity if he chooses, or is Angelo navigating his own exit, trying to find a way to promote his friend Tim Ruskell into a job he probably doesn’t deserve?

The last three weeks have been brutal, with fans whipsawed from genuine expectations to existential dread. Each outcome worse than the last, fraying nerves and eroding hope.

The loss to the Broncos, specifically, was a season-breaker. Smith’s message in the lead-up was clear all week in the angry tone of his defensive veterans before the game, and in Brian Urlacher’s bitterness after the fact. It was supposed to be a reclamation of identity and renewal of purpose, then it shattered into something cold and ugly, calling both into question.

At least the Colts and their fans could get their misery out of the way early, never envisioning anything this season with Peyton Manning sidelined. They were afforded ample time to recalibrate their emotions, rationalize and move on.

For the Bears, it’s just torture.

The injury totals are striking, particularly when contrasted with those of last season, with six players already on injured reserve. But this is not about Gabe Carimi, Patrick Mannelly or Chris Williams, and it’s not really even about Forte.

It’s clear, now, how good Jay Cutler is, and how bad the Bears are without him, even as the other phases remain solid. They likely beat the Raiders with him, clobber the Chiefs, and even prevent the embarrassing beatification of Tim Tebow and the accompanying national god-gasm that’s currently giving voice to the primitive bumpkins and emboldening the wild-eyed kooks.

It’s tempting to keep rewinding events. Johnny Knox doesn’t slip, the interception never happens, Cutler’s not hurt, so many things change.

It’s also a pointless, loser’s game to do that.

Unfortunately, that also describes the remainder of the Bears’ season.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Without Cutler, Bears In Chaos

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of ‚ÄúBoers and Bernstein‚Äù since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.

The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM (or you can listen online).
Listen to The Boers and Bernstein Show podcasts »

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Denver Deadite

    So, when do we get the discussion about Cutler for MVP? I’m sure if Manning can get votes, Cutler can.

    • Meatless Meatball

      Sarcasm aside, I think there’s a full argument for Manning. Not to get the MVP (that’s an award for a player–not a guy who’s sidelined–to win). No, I think Manning’s injury has proven once and for all who gets the better of the Manning-Brady debate. Oh, sure, lots of people will point to the three rings and four Super Bowl appearances and say, “Beat that, Manning, with your one ring and two trips to the big game.” And if that’s how you rate greatness, you’re right.

      But I seem to recall a season-ending injury to Tom Brady that precipitated an 11-5 season (and just barely missing the playoffs) by a team led by Matt Cassel, who’s been proven time and time again to be a cardboard box short of a bum. If the Pats can go 11-5 without Brady, that means the coaching must be superior, as must the talent around him. For the Colts to go o-fer (as they’re probably going to do this year) shows just how much Manning means to the team.

      I bring all this up because there’s ample evidence, too, to show just how important Cutler is to the Bears. Right now, I’m not sure if the Bears beat Indy if Hanie’s under center. It’s a pathetic team that has been assembled unreasonably badly but has been led by the single most underrated quarterback in the league, a guy who has made near-stars out of slow, steady Earl Bennett and the quick, butter-fingered Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. How does that happen? Because Cutler is that good.

      The other thing this Bears-minus-Cutler debacle has proven, to me at least, is that Jerry Angelo needs to go far, far away. I still don’t fully understand how he’s been brought back year after year, but I suppose you can’t off your GM after making it to the NFC Championship. Still, I feel like Angelo needs to take the brunt of the blame. He has indeed done an excellent job bringing in top-tier talent (Cutler, Peppers), but aside from drafting Devin Hester, his drafts have been pathetic — and Hester was a huge surprise, considering he was slated to be a DB before the WR experiment began.

      I sincerely hope that Angelo decides to take off after this year, and that the Bears don’t go with Ruskell just because Angelo tells them to. If Ruskell’s the right guy for the job, great, but for the love of Mike, we need to get SOMEBODY in here who knows how to pick up offensive talent — and that picking up offensive talent starts with the offensive line. If we can’t fix that, Cutler’s going to have a very short, very ruined career as a Bear. And for a franchise that’s never seen a quarterback as good as him, that should be a really worrying thought.

  • Going Shopping

    What floor are tires on?

  • Judge Smail's Slick Putter

    Absolutely spot-on. All of it.

    My question is- now what? Should I go into Bears shut-down mode and forget this season and team exist until hope can spring eternal next August? Do I wait until Sunday night to write the season off? I think it’s time to treat this team like light, meaningless fluff entertainment. I’ll keep watching, but I for one am emotionally divesting myself of the Bears for this season.

    Just like those five words spoken on the radio a few minutes before 6:00 pm most weeknights: “It’s over; It’s all over”.

  • Lil' Bycracke

    Talk more Tebow and his mean God!!

  • Ghee Buttersnaps

    That rug really tied the room together.

  • Bronzo

    Good article…very valid points… it’s been tough to watch the last couple of weeks.

    Did anybody hear Speigal absolutely bury Boers yesterday on the transition regarding Tebow? it was priceless and Dan didn’t say a word. Boers as usual was unprepared except for his uninformed opinion.

    • Bagwhan

      Yes—and he just did it again as Boers pontificated about College Football Top 25—Terry, hang it up guy, dont sign the new contract, just retire. Younger thoughts with facts are more interesting than old newspaper reporters making statements with nothing to back them and then sputtering and spinning nowhere. The guys time has definitely passed on far too many subjects. He’s phoning it in folks. No homework, no prep, little real sports watching. How about a Bernstein and Spiegs show, or a Bernstein and Matt show? Younger thoughts from guys who do their homework when spouting opinions. Boers is a fraud taking a fat paycheck now. Good once, but so too was the newspaper industry.

      The Bernstein article here? My god, it was like a statement of the obvious, all, including the Cutler angle, already covered by many this week. You left out Barber since you’re mentioning Knox slips and other miscues along the way. Lined up wrong, stayed in bounds and fumbled costing two games.

      Penn State and Tebow seem to have Bernsie doing a phoning it in lately too, but at least he does his homework and stays actively interested in sports stats and news. Boers? Absolute fraud these days.

      • Bronzo

        yeah he could have blamed the Bears” woes on Paterno…seieng as he wants him to die ASAP…. keep it classy Dan.

  • FC

    So wrong; who died and made Cutler the second comming? At best, he’s a C- quarterback. The Bears are losing simply because they are a much inferior team than most and it wouldn’t have mattered if Cutler had played or not. Stop worshiping this mediocre quarteback. He has not done anything; he has nothing to show for, and he has nothing backing him up as one of the elite. Please someone show me I am wrong. I dare you.

    • C-way

      “Please someone show me I am wrong. I dare you.”

      The phrase “shooting fish in a barrel” comes to mind.

    • Marky Mark

      You probably don’t think he’s injured either, do you? Or did you just forget that he dragged this bum-ass offense to the NFC Championship game last year? Or that he is already approaching nearly all of the Bears’ all time passing records?

    • pile of salt

      Heres my math. They were 7-3 with a healthy Cutler. After Cutler injury now 7-6. Does your tv work or are you really that brain dead? Jay Cutler=good at football. Caleb Hanie-Bad at football

  • Bernstein's buddy

    It’s articles like this that make it more obvious why Bernstein talks about hating Tebow and Sandusky so much. He doesn’t have anything to say. Every Bear fan knew all of this going into this year already. Give us an original thought, or a way to get out of the problem. Otherwise you sound like the simpleton you so often criticize.

    • C-way

      “Every Bear fan knew all of this going into this year already.”

      Guess you don’t listen to the Score very often.

  • Bernstein's buddy

    Terry really made himself look bad yesterday. The Speigal crosstalk, and then later with Matacova. He really is just a person who likes to hate everyone. Pretty bitter disgusting way to spend your life Boers.

    • Bagwhan

      Totally owned. Boers got exposed big time. Dude is just bitter about too much. Retire Terry you sound foolish now and far too often get in the way of good, researched dialogue by others around you. Bernsteins silence while he was getting owned by Matt was quite revealing. Boers begging for a life saver that never came from Bernsie.

    • Bernstein's EGO

      I agree..GROW UP TERRY!

  • Glockster

    Jay Cutler is the Bears offense for the most part, and watching the team now compared to a few weeks ago makes me question how I ever survived being a Bears fan before, when they had no franchise QB. It is such a bleak existence, like watching a ship sink every week. Sometimes it slowly capsizes and slides under, and sometimes the keel is broken and it goes straight down, but the result is always the same.

    But that brings me to the next thing. I hope Jerry Angelo goes and I hope nobody is stupid enough to promote Ruskell. The last thing the team needs is a carbon copy of Angelo. Sure doing that would be exactly what we’d expect from the McCaskeys, but keeping Jim Hendry was exactly what we expected from Tom Ricketts.

    Looking forward, I can only hope that in a few years I look back on the Bears and wonder how I ever survived being a fan during the Jerry Angelo era, the same way I wonder how I survived watching the Bulls before Derrick Rose (after MJeff of course).


    History will never be on the side of the Bears fan.
    There are some mediocre quarterbacks that have held the VInce Lombardi trophy.
    There have been some good ones that never held it.
    What they try to do, is flip the field.
    The Bears try to make magic through defensive prowess (which even D.I.K.C. Juron! was capable of).
    But, you’d hope they’d recognize that an offense has to be able to move the ball.
    Too many teams, too many rosters, and all but a few are rolling the dice every week. I was looking forward to the lockout this season.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Just like Manning with the Colts…no decent back-up so L in the loss column week after week. Jay is an excellent QB.

  • Chicagoan

    FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! ! FAVRE ! ! !

    • Doctor Vinnie Boombotz

      Thorazine. As needed.

  • Cutlerisordinary

    The truth of the matter is that Cutler looks like a Pro Bowler because Hanie is so God awful. Cutler was playing almost identical to his career numbers before the injury. By those standards he is middle of the road. Angelo is the one that should be held accountable because he has seen this kid for 3 years and still thinks he can play. A competent backup would have “bridged” this team to a playoff berth and allowed Cutler to return with his pedestrian 85 quarterback rating.

  • Spoon

    The “Cutler is average” comments are dumb enough to be quoted from an Onion article. Do these people watch the games, or just play fantasy football and look at stats?

    • Bronzo

      Spoon no argument Cutler is a very good QB… this year in particular. But how many bad interception did he have last year and the year before? a lot..Again he’s very good not quite Rogers Brady, Brees, Manning, but certainly at the next level.

      BTW what does herp-a- derp mean ?

  • Cutlerisordinary

    Cutler’s physical talents are obvious, but he still has too many poor fundamentals to be considered a top flight qb. In a pass happy league, the numbers just don’t lie. In the games before his injury, the defense and ST were giving the team 10-14 points. That was why they were averaging 30+ per game. His play was good, not great. Sorry, Bears fans but it would be a reach to put him in the top 10.

  • Fishman

    I agree, Cutler was not that great without the injury, they just played awful teams…He would not play any where near as good against, The Ravens or New England or The Packers, They would Humiliate the Bears and you all know it….Start The Hibernation NOW ! ! It Is Over…..

  • old man little boy...sound familiar?!?!

    Dan…wow..way to go out on a limb!! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live