Where is the Bears offense going with Cutler, Martz?

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Where is the Bears offense going with Cutler, Martz?

The yardage explosion perpetrated on the Bears by Cam Newton & Associates and the one delivered by Matt Forte and the offensive line Sunday pulled attention away from a disturbing slide that the Bears need to reverse if they have even a remote hope of playing more than 16 games for the 2011 season:

The offense was expected to take flight literally and figuratively after the trade for Jay Cutler and hiring of coordinator Mike Martz.

The trend line, however, is going in the wrong direction with both.

YearQBCoordinatorOffense points
2008Kyle OrtonRex GrossmanRon Turner
2122009Jay CutlerRon Turner
202
2010Jay CutlerMike Martz
2002011Jay CutlerMike Martz
168 (projected)

Through the first quarter of the 2011 season, the Bears special teams and defense have accounted for more points (52) than the offense (42). This is not a good thing.

An obvious qualifier would be the production of kicker Robbie Gould, whose 34 points so far might be construed as offensive points. Indeed, some are.

But five of Goulds eight 2011 field goals have been 26 yards or shorter, meaning failed drives in red zones.

For purposes of perspective: Of the Bears 334 points in 2010, Gould accounted for 110; Devin Hester returned three kicks for scores and D.J. Moore scored with an interception return to account for 24 more.

The offense scored 200. At the current pace, the offense will score just 168 for 2011.

"Were not playing perfect football, Cutler said. We know that. We should get better. We got the W, which is always good, but there is going to be room for improvement.

Changes, but for the better?

Skewing the offense toward the pass has produced fewer points but far more abuse of Cutler, although sack totals have not correlated to passer rating in Cutlers career.

Blame can be heaped on offensive lines and receiver groups. But the receiving corps was ostensibly upgraded with Roy Williams (over Devin Aromashodu) and Sam Hurd (over Rashied Davis). And the talk during training camp and preseason of what the second year in the system was going to be like take that particular excuse out of play.

None of the 2008-2011 offenses had anything close to the offensive line quality that the 2005-2007 teams did with Olin Kreutz at center, Roberto Garza and Ruben Brown at guards and Fred Miller and John Tait at tackles.

The 2008 offensive line had Josh Beekman starting at left guard. The 2009 group had Orlando Pace at left tackle initially and Frank Omiyale in and out of the lineup at left guard, with Chris Williams at right tackle and then at left.

Sundays game, with Lance Louis not starting but playing right guard, right tackle and short-yardage tight end, Omiyale benched then back in the lineup and right guard Chris Spencer out for a time with a fractured right hand, did have 20 points scored by the offense and Gould.

Im pleased for the most part with what were doing, said coach Lovie Smith. Were just still not quite there yet, but were making progress. Last week vs. Green Bay even though we didnt see as much progress as we wanted, we saw some, and we saw more this week.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

Bears face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

What we "knew" most about the 2016 Bears heading into the season is that, offensively, Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery would be the straws that stirred the offensive drink. 

Thanks to injuries, suspension and a perfect storm that resulted in a 3-13 season, the straw had a hole in it, the team still couldn't collectively close out games and a fifth-round rookie (Jordan Howard) and a second-year undrafted free agent (Cam Meredith) turned into the greatest causes for optimism on that side of the ball. 

The news that the team is shopping Cutler is hardly news-bulletin worthy. We've written about Cutler Fatigue here and discussed it on CSN's BearsTalk Podcasts for some time now. A breakup has seemed inevitable after eight years of .500 ball when he's been behind center. The tricky part is finding an alternative that would be a marked improvement for a coaching staff that might need to finish .500 to continue on the job in 2018. Yet that's the gamble that must be taken for a franchise that almost needs to move on, for better or worse, in order to find a way out of the muddy ditch it's found itself in.

Cutler must first be deemed healthy enough after labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder - something similar to what Buffalo did with Tyron Taylor this week following groin surgery. But Taylor might be a safer bet to stay with the Bills than Cutler is here. Those medicals might be out there already around the league if shopping has truly begun. And while a new destination for Cutler might not earn him the same salary (roughly $15 million) he'd make here, the thinking here is he'd prefer a fresh start just as much as the Bears want one. 

So let's go shopping.

Cleveland? No. 

San Francisco as a stopgap starter? Maybe. There's tons of salary cap space while a successor is groomed, and there's the Shanahan (Kyle/Mike) Factor. But more losing. 

How about Jacksonville to push his young clone, Blake Bortles? Perhaps. There's still a loaded, talented young defense that has yet to reach a promising ceiling, and a couple of talented receivers. 

The Los Angeles Rams could provide a push for Jared Goff (though it's hard not to see Goff being the starter, for better or worse). But if something should happen, Cutler would be ready, with Todd Gurley, what should be a respectable defense and a location close to where wife Kristin Cavallari can return to actressing. 

Jay in Buffalo? Good one! 

Arizona has already shot down interest. 

We don't see Denver wanting him back as they await Paxton Lynch's maturity with Trevor Siemian as a bridge. 

Reuniting with Adam Gase in Miami could be an option with Ryan Tannehill's health still a mystery. 

Then there's always Houston. I'm looking for Tony Romo's ultimate destination impacting Jay's. 

But retiring, as some reports this week suggested? No. Despite the public perception, Jay is a competitor, and I truly believe that still runs through him. He may not get to prove his reputation wrong before he retires, but despite what body language experts feel, I believe he'd still like to prove something. But I'm also not counting on any team giving up a draft pick for him. Teams know the Bears will release him, but if a club lower on the waiver claim wire truly desires him, Ryan Pace has squeezed something out from teams for his players on the discard pile before.

As for Jeffery, all remains quiet on the franchise tag front. The seal remains tight at Halas Hall over whether there have been any negotiations this past week, and if so, whether they've moved in a positive, long-term direction. 

Two things to keep in mind: the Bears did not tag him last year until the day before the deadline to do so. That deadline this year is March 1. The other is the fact that other teams in similar situations (such as Washington with Kirk Cousins and Kansas City with Eric Berry and Dontari Poe) have yet to make moves either, as that deadline looms. If the Bears determine they'll cut ties with Cutler, Eddie Royal and Lamarr Houston, that will free up another $24 million in cap space on top of the $60 million-plus they have already. Perhaps that factors into the decision on Jeffery, who'd get paid $17 million in 2017 under a second straight franchise tag for a team that needs play-makers and a coaching staff that needs wins next season. Letting him go would require attention and a portion of those dollars to replace him in the draft and/or free agency.

We leave all our internet/talk radio caller GM's with this question: Would you REALLY want to be in Ryan Pace's shoes this offseason? Can you be as shrewd, wise and run the table to the extent he must, especially at the most important, franchise-shaping position (which, granted, he's put on the back-burner his first two years)? And "get it right" to build momentum moving forward for a franchise that's reached the playoffs just once in the past decade? The rebuild remains substantial. And so are the decisions he faces in a crucial offseason.

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

This is apparently the week of Jay Cutler news.

Reports surfaced earlier this week the Bears are pushing hard to find a trade partner for the enigmatic quarterback, though Ian Rapoport reported the organization informed Cutler in mid-January they were shopping him around.

It seems clear Cutler's time in Chicago has come to an end and an ensuing move is more of a formality at this point.

But apparently Cutler may not even suit up again...for ANY team.

Rapoport reported on NFL Network Wednesday night Cutler is mulling over retirement, even as he's healthy and working out now after shoulder surgery.

"There's no guarantee Cutler even plays in 2017, one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play or not play, retire, walk away. A lot of things at play here for Jay Cutler."

Host Dan Hellie immediately followed up, asking for clarification on the retirement part.

"It is a consideration; it's something he's confided in people," Rapoport said. "But Dan, I would say, it's not a surprise for quarterbacks this age. We've heard [Ben] Roethlisberger talk about it; we've heard Tony Romo talk about it. If it's not perfect, if he can't find the team he wants or the contract he wants, it's very easy for Jay Cutler to walk away."

Whoa.

Cutler, 33, has made more than $112 million in his 11-year career and is owed at least another $2 million in 2017, even if he's cut by the Bears.