(Eds: With AP Photos.)By ANDREW SELIGMANAP Sports Writer
Jay Cutler is calling for a change.
The Bears quarterback said it is getting more difficult to maintain faith in Chicago’s system with the offense struggling and the hits on him piling up along with the losses. Cutler was running for cover again in Monday night’s 24-13 loss at Detroit, and he sounds like a man who might be running out of patience.
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He said ”yeah” when asked Wednesday if it was tough to stay confident in the offense run by coordinator Mike Martz.
”It’s like anything,” Cutler added. ”When it’s not going well, that’s the time when people start giving you a hard time and people start lacking in belief. But through the hard times we have to believe more and we’ve got to really work on it and make it happen.”
What’s happening so far isn’t good.
The Bears have issues on both sides of the ball, and at 2-3 they’re in danger of falling out of contention in the NFC North after winning the division last year. They already trail Detroit and Green Bay – the league’s last unbeaten teams – by three games, and they figure to have their hands full with Minnesota on Sunday.
Cutler has been sacked 18 times this season, tied with Sam Bradford and Tarvaris Jackson for the most in the NFL. With Vikings stars Jared Allen and Brian Robison staring at an offensive line that ranks 30th, it could be a long night for Chicago’s quarterback if no adjustments are made.
One change he’d like to see? Less time with the ball in his hands. Cutler said the Bears must find ways for him to get rid of it quicker and cut back on the hits he’s taking.
”(I’m) just believing in the system, knowing that Mike is going to come up with some game plans to get rid of the ball quicker and help out the offensive line and get us back on track,” Cutler said.
Did Martz tell him he would?
”I said I’m hoping,” Cutler said. ”I’d like to see that happen.”
That will be up to Martz. Or maybe coach Lovie Smith.
Martz has been in the spotlight ever since he was hired last season. To many, the architect of the St. Louis Rams’ offense in the late 1990’s and early 2000s – dubbed the Greatest Show on Turf – was an odd fit, given Smith’s preference to run.
At times, it seems Martz is trying to force his system on a team that might not be suited for it, particularly given the ongoing issues with blocking. That was the perception last season, when the Bears struggled early on before committing more to the run and turning around their season, and a similar pattern has unfolded this year.
Some weeks, the running game has been an afterthought while Cutler is getting hammered. Other times, the pass protection is good enough, but the run blocking isn’t.
They’ve had trouble getting the plays called in time, too, forcing them to burn timeouts.
Against Detroit, Cutler was under siege again.
He threw for 249 yards while completing 28 of 38 passes and got sacked three times but was dodging the defense all night. He would have gone down more had he not made some plays on the run, but Cutler said moving in the pocket really isn’t an option in this system. Rollouts simply aren’t part of the package.
”Believe it or not, we’re trying to put our guys in a position to succeed every play,” Smith said.
The nine false starts at a raucous Ford Field certainly didn’t help, and for the second straight game, starting right tackle Frank Omiyale got lifted.
”The fact that we’re doing it to ourselves is something that we’ve talked about,” center Roberto Garza said. ”Unfortunately, we’re not carrying what we’re doing on the practice field to the game.”
Cutler insists he’s confident the line will bounce back.
”We have to get it right,” he said. ”And we’ve got to help them. That’s part of it. We can’t just expect everything to be OK and those guys just strap it up this week and be perfectly good. We’ve got to do our part and I’ve got to do my part and Mike Martz has to do his part and get rid of the ball and helping those guys out and protection and chipping and doing everything you have to do to avoid sacks and avoid pressure.”