Four weeks ago everything stood in place for a playoff push for the Chicago Bears. Then Jay Cutler broke his thumb. Four straight losses later, the once contrite and venomous critics of the young quarterback have disappeared.
Cutler and Matt Forte will likely sit out rest of season
No one wanted things to end like this but it almost had to. Bears fans didn't want Cutler and running back Matt Forte to rush back from their injuries before they were ready. Now the organization has gotten a nice eyeful of the team they built. It's a hard pill to swallow but it opens a door for change to come in 2012. Fans haven't expressed happiness with the front office after the Super Bowl run five years ago, and that general dislike has exploded into outright loathing. The Chicago Bears are a team that lacks talent, not coaching or effort. That blame goes directly to general manager Jerry Angelo, who failed in three seasons to put any form of practical offense around Jay Cutler. Now rumors persist of his retirement and Bears fans may just throw a parade to celebrate the occasion. At this point anybody is an upgrade.
Injuries and distractions such as Sam Hurd and Kristin Cavallari didn't help
Cutler and Forte weren't the only injuries that derailed the Bears in their collapse. Key players like Chris Williams, Gabe Carimi, Major Wright and Johnny Knox all went down at bad times. Then tabloids exploded with constant coverage of the renewed engagement between Jay and girlfriend Kristin Cavallari. If that weren't enough, receiver Sam Hurd humiliated the team by getting arrested as an apparent drug dealer. The Chicago Bears built their reputation on mental toughness but losing so much all at once will bury anyone. The ineptness of their receivers, backup quarterbacks and aging defense all piled on and showed just how much Jay Cutler covered up with his toughness and talent. While everyone drools over Tom Brady, Tim Tebow and Aaron Rodgers none bothered to look at how quietly one man had turned a pile of poop into a mildly tasty slab of meatloaf. Still not good but enough to digest.
Fate of Jerry Angelo and Mike Martz become magnified
Watching the last game many things have cleared. Roy Williams will not return next season. Caleb Hanie might say the same. The Chicago Bears stand at a crossroads. Either the team will embrace the new phase of their winning existence by throwing their lot behind Jay Cutler or stick to the sinking ship that is Jerry Angelo. Mike Martz hasn't made many friends as offensive coÃ¶rdinator but his brief success with Cutler may have saved his job for one more season should he decide to stay.
Expletives aside, Chicago fans grow tired of the mediocrity and the inconsistency. Cutler has nothing left to prove. Not to them, not to Kristin Cavallari and not to the NFL. Elite or not, the Chicago Bears don't win without him. That must change.