Bears' worst fears for Cutler, offensive line are realized

The Chicago Bears pulled Jay Cutler out the team’s first preseason game at San Diego after the first series because of fears the quarterback would be injured the in face of the Chargers’ intense pressure.

Cutler made it out of that night fine but those fears by the Bears were realized Sunday night at New Meadowlands Stadium as the New York Giants battered Cutler for nine sacks in the first half of a 17-3 victory, knocking him out at halftime with a concussion.

It was a stunning display of dominance as the Bears had no answer or countermove against the Giants, who came from all angles in overrunning the Bears’ patchwork offensive front. Cutler showed zero pocket awareness, taking at least four sacks where he could have thrown the ball away. The line was pitiful. Making both problems worse was offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who made no tangible adjustments to pull the team out of the deep problem.

Cutler’s status for Sunday’s game at Carolina remains very much up in the air. He will have to be evaluated by a Bears’ physician as well as an independent doctor and be cleared before he will be allowed to return to practice.

“Jay didn’t finish the game, that’s all that we know,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “We know what type of competitor he is. If he’s healthy and ready to go, of course he’ll be out there (Sunday at Carolina.”

Afterward, though, Smith couldn’t even say when Cutler was injured.

“He took some hits so it’s hard to say exactly when,” Smith said. “Right now, I don’t have all of that information, but we need to protect him more. You can only take so much and tonight was a little too much for him.”

The Giants were operating without defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who missed the game with a bulging disc in his neck. He had four of the defense’s six sacks entering the game. The Bears were playing without left tackle Chris Williams and right guard Lance Louis was lost to a left knee injury in the second quarter.

The Bears replaced Cutler with Todd Collins in the third quarter and he was KO’d in the fourth quarter, suffering a neck stinger on a hit by linebacker Michael Boley, who had a free run at him. Collins was sacked just once and the 10 sacks tied the most ever allowed by a Mike Martz offense. Jon Kitna was sacked 10 times in a Lions’ loss at Philadelphia in 2007 when Martz was running the offense for Detroit.

The Bears have allowed 18 sacks, the most in the NFL and three more than Arizona and Philadelphia. Not surprisingly, they allowed more sacks than any other team in preseason. Martz has his work cut out for him to find a way to keep Cutler upright moving forward.

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