Cutler still looking for rhythm on offense

October, 2, 2011
10/02/11
6:09
PM ET
[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireJay Cutler Cutler completed 9 of 17 for 102 yards and an interception, finishing with a passer rating of 46.7.
CHICAGO -- A punishing Chicago Bears ground game lightened the load for quarterback Jay Cutler in Sunday's 34-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

But even with limited reliance on the passing attack, Cutler struggled, and pointed to personnel changes along the offensive line as part of the hindrances in his attempt to find a rhythm. Cutler completed 9 of 17 for 102 yards and an interception, finishing with a passer rating of 46.7.

"With our changes up front, it's kind of hard," Cutler said. "Once we get those guys kind of stable and get [right tackle] Gabe [Carimi] back and get everything situated up there, we'll get there. It's hard to be in a rhythm four games into it, to have an identity. We're still figuring it out."

The passer rating was Cutler's lowest in a regular season game since a Dec. 12 loss last season to the New England Patriots. The 102 yards through the air marked the quarterback's lowest output in a full game (he threw for 42 yards, but was knocked out after a half last season against the Giants) since 2009, when Cutler passed for 94 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.

Cutler didn't appear overly concerned with the performance, and indicated winning trumps individual accolades.

"These games happen. You have to manage the ball game," Cutler said. "I wish I could have had that pick back, but it happened. The way we were running the football, if we were going to throw it on third down, [I] just had to try to fit it in a spot, and get it to the right guy. We were able to do that enough times to get the "W"."

But it's questionable as to how long that can last. Cutler hasn't completed better than 56.8 percent of his attempts in almost a month, and his 78.9 passer rating in the loss to the Green Bay Packers ranks as the quarterback's most efficient outing in three weeks.

After taking 11 sacks in over the first two outings, Cutler has been dropped for sacks just four times over the last two weeks; an indication the protection might be improving.

Now perhaps the quarterback needs to follow suit. Cutler has completed less than 50 percent of his passes over the last three games (49 of 99).

"We're not playing perfect football," Cutler said. "We know that. We should get better. We got the W, which is always good. But there is going to be room for improvement."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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