It may be hard to imagine at the moment, but the Bears were certain they’d be 2-0, resting on the couch and watching everyone else play football Sunday.
Visualize that and understand what it would have meant.
Not only would Super Bowl parade plans have been drawn, but the calls for a new Lovie Smith contract would have followed in short order.
And this is the one that always baffles.
According to his supporters, Smith simply can’t work on a one-year contract. It shouldn’t be done. It can’t be done. It won’t be done.
He can’t go into to 2013 on the final year of his deal because coaches can’t win in the NFL under those circumstances.
Here’s the question: Why not? You’re suggesting players won’t play hard for Smith if he gets to the final year of his deal without an extension?
They’ll make a conscious effort to quit on Smith because he’s only making $5 million, and has an uncertain future after collecting $32 million over his last two extensions?
But wait, Smith is supposedly the greatest players’ coach in the history of all sports, so why would they quit on him? It should be just the opposite. If Smith survives into next season and coaches on a one-year deal, wouldn’t the players do everything in their power to win for him?
That sounds like a pretty good plan, actually.
But, alas, there will be no calls for a new Smith contract until at least late October or early November when the Bears get a couple games over .500 again.
And as bad as Thursday’s beating was in Green Bay, the Bears are 1-1 and will go into the bye week above .500, probably at 3-2 and in solid position in the conference.
Nevertheless, Smith needs to get his team and his quarterback under control. He’d never admit that publicly, never give that to you, the fan. It’s just not his way, but it has to happen.
Cutler had a very bad week. He challenged the Packers — wished them luck — and then failed to back it up, and if you think that didn’t fire up Green Bay, think again.
“We understand that Jay’s excited about his new weapons, but it’s the same old Jay,” veteran Charles Woodson told ESPN late Thursday night. “We don’t need luck. We just need to be in position. Jay will throw us the ball.
“The proof is in the pudding. You saw the way the game went. He’ll throw the ball to the defense.”
That he did, four times Thursday night, and the Packers appreciated Cutler giving them a little help with their mental preparation.
“Any time you can get that type of motivation you want to use that, especially in this league as hard as it is to win,” corner Tramon Williams told ESPN Friday morning. “When you get that motivation, it may get you over the edge.”
Naturally, Smith wouldn’t acknowledge Cutler’s insult or its impact, but the Packers did. They also noticed Cutler losing his composure under intense defensive pressure, and getting after J’Marcus Webb.
“I don’t know him personally,” Williams said of Cutler. “I hope he’s a great guy. I don’t know what to think of him. He says he wants to win.
“I don’t know if taking it out on your teammates and pushing your offensive linemen around — the guys who block for you — is a good idea. When you’re in the heat of the game, emotions take over and those things happen. But I’m pretty sure those guys will talk about it.”
The guy who needs to talk is Smith, and he needs to talk to Cutler. The QB needs to understand that screaming at a bad player for being bad isn’t going to make Webb better.
Cutler should be screaming at Smith for insisting that the team’s biggest need in the draft was an outside linebacker turned pass rusher, rather than beefing up a line that’s been bad for a long time.
We all know Cutler is an emotional guy, but acting like a toddler doesn’t inspire his teammates. No, they don’t have to love him, but they do have to respect him and play for him.
Great quarterbacks get their guys to play for them, not love them. Patriots players don’t always love Tom Brady, but they always respect him and play hard for him.
Great leaders — like Brady and Joe Montana — inspire confidence, even at the worst of times and when demanding a lot from their teammates. One check of Cutler’s demeanor inspires one to seek out root canal.
Of course, Brady and Montana have won seven Super Bowls between them. Jay Cutler’s won a single playoff game in seven years — against an 8-9 Seattle team two years ago.
Granted, he’s never had enough of anything around him, but how much has he done to make them all better?
Keep in mind that when the Bears improve to 2-1 after they defeat the Rams, much of the Green Bay misery will be forgotten.
But the bigger picture reveals Smith and Cutler are signed through 2013, and it’s a reminder that they both have a lot of work left to do — and much to prove.
ŸListen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score’s “Hit and Run” show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.