NFL Network's Warner, Thiesmann have advice for Bears' Cutler

CHICAGO -- The way he's getting battered around, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler could probably use some survival tips.

Kurt Warner has a few.

The quarterback who played a starring role in Mike Martz's "Greatest Show on Turf" with the St. Louis Rams sees Cutler struggling with "confidence and understanding" while trying to adapt to a complicated system that doesn't necessarily mesh with his natural tendencies.

"I think he's a perfect fit from a confidence, from an ability standpoint," Warner said Tuesday during an NFL Network conference call with fellow analyst and longtime quarterback Joe Theismann.

"But where I think it has to adjust is he's got to be able to anticipate within that offense and see things ahead of time, throw the ball before a guy gets open, trust the guy to come open or move to his next read. That's where I see him struggling right now within that offense."

Three losses in four games after a 3-0 start left the Bears (4-3) staggering into their bye last week and put Cutler and Martz under scrutiny.

For Martz, it stems from his perceived stubbornness and aversion to the handoff. Cutler is simply taking a beating.

He's been sacked a league-most 27 times, 19 in his past three games, starting with a nine-sack first half in a 17-3 loss Oct. 3 to the New York Giants that left him with a concussion and forced him to sit out the following week's 23-6 victory at Carolina. He has as many interceptions (seven) as touchdowns after getting picked off four times by Washington's DeAngelo Hall in another ugly loss two weeks ago.

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Now the Bears get winless Buffalo in Toronto, a chance for a stumbling team to regain its footing. Much of that hinges on Cutler staying on his feet and making the right decisions.

"The one thing you understand about this offense more than any other offense I've been in is that it's all based on timing," Warner said.

At the moment, it's not there.

"I see hesitation in Jay at the back end of his drop and in the pocket, where he wants to get back there, hitch a couple of times, see something come open and then make the throw," Warner said. "In this offense, it's not built that way."

The Bears turned more than a few heads after last season when they hired Martz as their offensive coordinator, hoping he could get Cutler to cut back on the interceptions and rediscover the Pro Bowl form he had in Denver. It was a pairing many believed would lead to spectacular results or spectacular failure, given their headstrong ways and the complexity of the offense.

"Every time Mike goes somewhere, that's the automatic expectation, that this team is going to score 35 points," Warner said. "They're going to throw it all over the place, and they're going to be the most dynamic offense in the league.

"First, you have to start there and say, 'You're not going to have that personnel, so now where's the drop-off?' I would definitely say that you don't have the greatest skill positions in Chicago. You've got guys that are continuing to learn the receiver position. I think there's some talent there, and I think there's definitely some people that can work within the system and be very, very successful. But I guess it really comes down to what are you comparing it to?"

The Bears don't have an Isaac Bruce or Torry Holt at receiver, a Marshall Faulk in the backfield. They do, however, have a shaky line, and in a system that leaves the quarterback exposed, critics saw trouble.

Cutler was constantly on the run last season while throwing 26 interceptions, and in Martz's system, quarterbacks are known to take a beating.

Considering the Bears did little to beef up the line and have repeatedly juggled it this season because of injuries and poor play. Tight ends and running backs aren't exactly doing their part blocking, either, and Cutler is not without blame.

He tends to make poor decisions, holds onto the ball too long and tries to make plays that aren't there rather than throw it away, as Theismann pointed out.

"It just gets him in trouble," Theismann said. "Sometimes, you have to say, 'Look, you win. Defense, you win. I'm going to throw it away, come back and go after you another time.' And it seems like Jay wants to just make every throw a completion and every one count."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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