Belichick: Cutler dangerous with arm, legs

December, 8, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The platitudes were flowing as New England coach Bill Belichick talked Wednesday about the Patriots’ next opponent, the Chicago Bears.

Chicago’s offense, defense, special teams and coaching staff all were praised by Belichick, whose Pats (10-2) will visit the Bears (9-3) at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Belichick extolled the virtues of defensive end Julius Peppers, the Bears’ big free-agent signee who was coveted by Patriots fans, and he ticked off other names on the defense, notably linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, as superlative players. On offense, running back Matt Forte, receivers Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and tight end Greg Olson were singled out, with Belichick also paying respect to coach Lovie Smith as well as new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the guru of the wide-open offense.

“They’re an impressive team to watch,” said Belichick. “They do a lot of things well. That’s reflected in their record and the five wins in a row. They’re a good team in any statistic there is.”

There was one other player Belichick was effusive in praising, quarterback Jay Cutler, a player whose reputation took a severe beating last year when he floundered badly after arriving in Chicago in a preseason trade with Denver.

This season, Belichick noted, Cutler has been impressive. Cutler is completing 63.2 percent of his passes (201 of 318) and is on pace for a 3,000-yard season. He also has rushed for 201 yards on 41 carries (4.9 average), making him the team’s third-leading rusher.

“Cutler does a good job of spreading the ball around," Belichick said. "He’s playing as well as any quarterback in the league. We’ve played a lot of good quarterbacks lately. Taking nothing away from the [Ben] Roethlisbergers and the [Peyton] Mannings. Those guys are good, too. But Jay Cutler has done a real good job, particularly the last five games. There are not many decisions you can question that he has made.”

Cutler has 10 touchdown passes and three interceptions in his last five games.

“He has done a good job with Mike [Martz’s] schemes,” Belichick said. “And if a play breaks down [Cutler] can run. He’s able to keep the plays alive. He does a good job of extending the plays and making positive yards. He’s fast. He can outrun defensive backs.”

It is a short week of preparation because the Patriots played the Monday night game (a 45-3 thrashing of the Jets). Belichick, his staff and players are condensing the work week by necessity, hoping to be close to normal in terms of preparation timing by Thursday, Belichick said.

Making it a little more difficult is the fact that New England hasn’t played the Bears since Nov. 26, 2006, when the Patriots beat Chicago, 17-13 at Gillette Stadium, so they aren’t nearly as familiar with the team as they would be with an AFC East team, for example.

And there’s one more variable: the Soldier Field sod. The Bears have installed a new surface for Sunday’s game.

“It is what it is. We know what it is. We know how hard it is to install turf in December,” said Belichick, with the Patriots having done a similar turf job in recent years.

So, said Belichick with a shrug, it will be up to the Pats to make sure they have the right cleats.

“You have to play with good body balance when you make a cut,” said Belichick. “If you don’t the chances are the field won’t support those cuts.”



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