LAKE FOREST, Ill. – If fans want to burn his jersey, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has no problem with that. He all but dared them to do it again, actually.
"It's not the first time," he said.
It's fair to say Cutler isn't getting much love around Chicago these days with the Bears in a freefall heading into Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.
They have dropped three straight and five of six, and as bad as that sounds, they managed to hit a new low the past two games. They got pounded 51-23 by New England and trumped that with a 55-14 blowout at Green Bay coming out of their bye. The only other team to give up 50 or more in back-to-back games was the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons.
As bad as the defense has been, it's not like the offense is performing any better.
"It comes with the territory," Cutler said Thursday when asked about the criticism of him. "You're losing ball games, rightfully so, that's what's going to happen. The only way to remedy that is to win and to play better, so that's all you can do."
Cutler is having his best season statistically in some ways, but he's also still committing turnovers at inopportune times and at an alarming rate.
He is tied for the league lead with five lost fumbles and tied for second with 10 interceptions. And patience is wearing thin, particularly after that ugly performance against Green Bay. Cutler threw two interceptions — one pass deflecting off Kyle Long's helmet and into Casey Hayward's hands for an 82-yard touchdown return — and committed three turnovers in that game.
Afterward, videos of fans burning his jersey surfaced online. Bears fans also did it after the 2010 team lost the NFC title game to Green Bay, and fans in Denver burned his jersey when he had a fallout with the Broncos that led to his trade to Chicago before the 2009 season.
"If I were Marc Trestman I'd sit Jay Cutler," former quarterback and NFL analyst Rich Gannon said on the CBS Sports Network.
Gannon, who will be calling Sunday's game, had an MVP season in Oakland when Trestman was the Raiders' offensive coordinator.
Asked about that remark, the Bears coach said he couldn't comment.
As alarming as his turnover total is, Cutler still has a career-high rating (92.8) and completion percentage (66.4).
But the Bears have gone from second in scoring last year to 22nd in points per game. In recent weeks, they've been squashed almost as soon as they stepped on the field, outscored a combined 94-7 over the first two quarters of the past three games.
"We're not doing exactly what we should be doing, we're not making plays on offense when we should be making them," Cutler said. "It starts with me, I've got to play better, I've got to put these guys in positions to make some of these plays."
The Bears are trying to find some solutions, to salvage something from a season now headed toward a seventh playoff miss in eight years.
"Success will breed success and it doesn't take more than one play," offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. "One play will do it and you feel good about it. We're talking a lot about things that are just basics when we say confidence."
He insisted the offense can be fixed and that Cutler is generally making the right decisions despite some glaring mistakes. That across-the-body pass in the fourth quarter of the season-opening overtime loss to Buffalo — his second interception of the game — stands out.
"(Matt Forte) has caught a lot of balls this year (on that kind of a pass)," Kromer said.
Notes: TE Martellus Bennett (ribs) and WR Brandon Marshall (ankle) practiced on a limited basis, while RT Jordan Mills (ribs) sat out.