View from the middle

So just wondering … where can you get the best deal on a pitchfork?

Oh yeah, and after we run Jay Cutler out of town, then what?

Not that it doesn't serve at least a cathartic purpose to tee off on Cutler after his five interceptions highlighted the Bears' latest humiliating loss Thursday night. It's always fulfilling to put a face on the source of our frustration.

But not only is Cutler not going anywhere until after 2013 if that $50 million contract means anything, beating him up is still missing the point.

Cutler remains the best thing the Bears have going for them. And yes, that is wholly depressing given what happened Thursday night. But then what did you expect, a perky pick-me-up?

It is not depressing because Cutler is going to drag them down. It is depressing because the organization already has dragged Cutler, a 26-year-old once considered one of the top talents in the league, down to the level of a bad football team.

Cutler had a horrendous game in the Bears' 10-6 loss to San Francisco. He is having a below-average season.

Those of us who thought he could raise the level of his young receivers were wrong. It wasn't fair to expect that much. Yes, he has had a penchant for throwing interceptions but at his current address, that bad habit is only exacerbated, his judgment further impaired and his long-term mental health in some serious peril.

But after tossing up five interceptions, you don't get the benefit of the doubt. You get the NFL Network's Deion Sanders criticizing Cutler for, among other things, bending down to pull up his sock after one of his five interceptions.

Guess that was easier for Sanders than talking about his buddy Devin Hester, who arguably lost the game for the Bears on one series in the second quarter when he lined up offsides on first down, followed on the next play with a holding penalty, then topped it off on first-and-10 at the San Francisco 49-yard line when he slipped, allowing cornerback Tarell Brown to get the interception.

Brown's 51-yard return set up a 14-yard touchdown by Frank Gore, the only touchdown of the night by either team and the game-winning score.

If that seems at all harsh to pick on Hester for slipping, he made up for it in the third quarter when he broke off a route because an official was in his way, leading to Cutler's third interception.

For all of Cutler's worst traits, looking nervous in the red zone was not one of them. But he looked like a shaky rookie inside the 20 on Thursday night. His two red zone interceptions were easily his two worst moments in San Francisco, as his red zone play has been much of the season. And anticipating that Bears receivers are going to be where they are supposed to be is probably not a good idea anymore.


Former NFL offensive lineman Jamie Dukes observed Cutler in San Francisco for the NFL Network as he has this season, and deduced, "I have no problem with Jay Cutler. The Bears don't have what they need to get the job done, and when you don't have what you need, you try to press at times. That's what I see Jay Cutler doing. He's pressing, and at a time when he's still trying to get acquainted with what his receivers are doing."

Dukes pointed out the "symbiotic relationship" great quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have with their receivers. No one is comparing Cutler to Manning and Brady, but he certainly would have a better chance succeeding with maybe one good receiver and a great offensive mind on the sideline.

"You couldn't grab Chris Chambers? You couldn't bring in Marvin Harrison or Matt Jones just to see what they have in their tanks?" Dukes said. "You need someone who understands their craft, if for no other reason than to teach the young guys. When [Devin] Aromashodu is your most polished receiver, you have to have some problems."

For example, he said, NFL receivers should know that officials are always going to step underneath the play, something Hester clearly did not know when he stopped his route.

Dukes questioned why the Bears haven't bootlegged Cutler more often, why they haven't followed through on moving him out of the pocket, where Mike Shanahan got so much mileage with him in Denver.

"Jay's feeling pressure to show people he's worth what the Bears spent," Dukes said. "Unfortunately, he's fighting with his hands behind his back. I think the [Bears] organization has failed him miserably. Look at what's going on in Oakland. Those kids can't play wide receiver. You can't throw babies in this league because they run a 4.2 fifty."

Yes, again, Cutler was bad Thursday night. But should 6-foot-7, 262-pound tight end Kellen Davis have allowed San Francisco safety Mark Roman to shoulder him out of the way on Cutler's fourth interception?

Should Olin Kreutz still be struggling on snaps? Should the Bears get called for a delay of game after a timeout? Should Chris Williams refrain from jumping on the pile after the whistle on the game-deciding final drive? Should Orlando Pace be on the field any longer?

The Bears have much bigger problems than Jay Cutler.

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.