Hub Arkush: Jay Cutler wasn't all that was bad on Sunday

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) runs into the end zone for a touchdown after recovering a fumble by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya)

A not-so-funny thing happened on the Bears' way to their 40-32 loss to the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit. Bad Jay showed up again, out of nowhere, and suddenly the Bears risk being right back at square one.

The final stats in this one are meaningless. Jay Cutler was really bad and his three interceptions and fumble lost were huge ingredients in the egg the Bears laid. But to lay the whole thing on Cutler is to miss the bigger story and in fact is flat out wrong.

Players have off days. All the good we've seen in Cutler recently is not necessarily lost. Bad Matt Stafford showed up too, but things worked out just fine for the Lions. As poorly as Stafford threw the football early, Detroit easily could have suffered the same fate the Bears did.

But they didn't because Reggie Bush and Detroit's defensive and offensive lines dominated this game and the Lions' safeties, Louis Delmas and Glover Quin, seem to understand where they're supposed to be most of the time in pass coverage.

With the possible exception of Julius Peppers, who played like an angry young man anxious to silence his critics of recent weeks, nobody else showed up for the Bears. When you go 1 for 13 on third down on offense you cannot win in the NFL.

Cutler doesn't have enough weapons. When teams commit to taking the big play away from Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Earl Bennett aren't good enough to win games without them and there will be days like Sunday in Detroit.

In addition to not having enough targets, there were just too many times in the Lions game when Cutler couldn't even use all the targets he has.

The Bears new offensive line is improved, it hasn't been a mirage. But one of the ways Marc Trestman has been protecting his quarterback is with a lot of six- and seven-man protections where Marshall, Jeffery and Martellus Bennett are the only receivers running patterns.

The Lions saw that coming and it wasn't hard for them to cover two or three targets with five, six or seven defenders.

Say what you will about Ndamukong Suh, but he and Nick Fairley have become the best pair of defensive tackles in football and the Lions front dominated the Bears new O-line. The kids, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, had their first bad Sunday.

I still like the kids and you should too. There will be many rematches, which we should now look forward to with great anticipation. But this time, the rookies got their butts whipped.

On the other side, yes, the Bears have lost Henry Melton and Nate Collins got his first start. But other than Peppers, who had four tackles, one sack and forced a fumble, the rest of the line created no pressure. Peppers' sack was the only time Stafford was hit all day, and because of the multiple weapons Stafford had at his disposal, Mel Tucker couldn't afford to bail them out with the blitz this time.

Even all the breaks that have gone the Bears way so often recently weren't there. Matt Stafford fumbled in the end zone and the ball bounced right back to him for a touchdown. Charles Tillman stripped Bush and Johnson falls on the ball for an additional 6-yard gain. All that was bad was not Jay Cutler.

The Bears are neither as bad as they were in Detroit nor as good as we hoped in their 3-0 start. Potential redemption is just seven days up the road at Soldier Field with the Saints in town.

But New Orleans will see the same tape we will and now is when we really begin to find out just what kind of team these Bears will be.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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