LAKE FOREST – Jay Cutler stood at a lectern Wednesday at Halas Hall, but he might as well have been on his knees begging for changes to the Bears’ game plan.
Fewer deep drops in the pocket. More quick passes.
Pretty, pretty please with a spiral on top.
“At a certain point, you’re going to have to throw it,” said Cutler, who will face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6. “And at a certain point, you’re going to have to evaluate what you can do in the passing game and what you can’t do.
“That’s not up to me, though. That’s up to those guys.”
Cutler sought changes from his coaches after he was sacked three times and hit a half-dozen times during the Bears’ 24-13 loss to the Detroit Lions on Monday night. He has been sacked 18 times this season, which is tied with Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams and Tarvaris Jackson of the Seattle Seahawks for the most in the NFL.
If that statistic rings a bell, it’s because Cutler had his bell rung plenty of times last year, too.
He was sacked 52 times in 2010, which was 12 more times than anyone else.
On Wednesday, Cutler was asked whether he had gone to his offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, to ask for adjustments in play calling.
“Yeah,” Cutler said with a smile, limiting his answer to one word.
A reporter tried to coax Cutler into a more substantive answer by pointing out that he had taken a beating this season and implying that quicker passes might help.
“Yes,” Cutler said, again allowing silence to fill in the blanks.
Had Martz agreed to include more quick passes in this week’s playbook?
“I’m not saying anything,” Cutler said with another smile, proving that he can sidestep questions in addition to pass rushers. “You guys talk to him today, don’t you?”
Usually, yes. But this week, Martz will speak today instead of Wednesday.
“Oh,” Cutler said. “Next time, whenever you talk to him, you can ask him.
“I said I’m hoping. I’d like to see that happen.”
Otherwise, Cutler could end up on the trainer’s table and the Bears’ playoff hopes could end up on life support.
The Bears (2-3) have fallen three games behind undefeated NFC North division opponents Green Bay and Detroit. They will return to Soldier Field on Sunday to host the Vikings (1-4), whose struggles are not indicative of a superior pass rush led by Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen and stalwart defensive tackle Kevin Williams.
During Monday’s game, ESPN analysts ripped the Bears’ offensive line. They praised Cutler for being able to make plays in front of such a subpar unit.
Bears center Roberto Garza was aware of the criticism.
“Obviously, we haven’t proved them wrong yet,” Garza said. “And it’s up to us to go out there and do it better, get the job done and win football games.
“We put ourselves in those situations, and now we have to get ourselves out.”
Cutler said he was confident that the Bears could regroup. He pointed out that the Bears struggled in the early and middle portions of last season before adjusting their game plan and winning seven of their last nine regular-season games.
Cutler said similar changes were necessary for his health, mostly between his ears. Quick passes could prevent long Sundays filled with sacks and quarterback hits.
“Physically, it’s not that big of a deal,” Cutler said. “Mentally, it just speeds up my clock. It just makes me uneasy in the pocket.
“You take your eyes from downfield and you kind of check to see what’s going on in front of you, so psychologically and mentally, it’s more than anything. I just don’t want to take the sack. I’m just trying to get rid of the ball as fast as possible.”