CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler called his performance “hit and miss” Sunday after throwing an interception and generating a passer rating of 58.9 as his team rode the defense to a 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
What’s important, he said is “we won the game.”
“Offensively, there are some things we can get better,” Cutler said. “But the idea is to win. It’s not a solo tennis match out there. Everywhere, every position has got to improve including myself, offensively. We didn’t play a perfect game. It’s hard to play a perfect game. There’s definitely some areas and some plays that we can improve on.”
Coming off a disastrous outing in a loss last Thursday to the Green Bay Packers which led to 10 days of criticism and intense analysis of the quarterback, not to mention exploration into the dynamics of the locker room, Cutler returned to the field Sunday to complete 17 of 31 passes for 183 yards and an interception against the Rams.
The offense produced just one touchdown on the day with the quarterback shaking off a slow start to complete 4 of 5 for 35 yards during the scoring drive, which was capped by a 3-yard Michael Bush touchdown run.
“Not every game is gonna be 41-21 (which was the score of the Bears' season-opening win over Indianapolis),” Cutler said. “We’re not gonna come out every game and blow the doors off offensively and defensively and on special teams. This is a normal NFL football game. This is what it’s gonna be more than likely week in and week out. That’s what we talked to the offense (about) all week long: just going out, establishing the run, taking the passes when we can and limiting our turnovers. If we get in these (types of games) every game, we’re gonna be O.K.”
Bears coach Lovie Smith expressed a similar thought.
“I expect the offense to do what is required of them on that day,” Smith said. “Some days we may have to score 41 points to win. Other days, it may be about ball security and making plays when we have to. For our team to put up over 20 points, (the) offense has to be in the position to do some good things and they were.”
Cutler threw incompletions on six of his 12 passes in the first quarter, in addition to suffering a sack and throwing an interception on a ball intended for Brandon Marshall that was picked off by Cortland Finnegan. By the end of the first half, Cutler’s passer rating sat at 44.8.
Cutler acknowledged that misfires on his part played a role. But along the way, Chicago’s receivers dropped several passes -- including what would have been a touchdown to Devin Hester in the fourth quarter -- and on a few of the Cutler’s dropbacks, the Rams put him under heavy duress. Cutler praised the offensive line and said the unit played "with a little edge to them." Cutler called the drops “frustrating,” while adding, “I missed a few throws though, too.”
Cutler also hit a couple, including a 34-yard completion to Marshall in the fourth quarter on a play in which “we finally get man (coverage), and we take a shot and we get a big play,” the quarterback said. Earlier in the quarter, Cutler scrambled for a 21-yard gain that set up a Robbie Gould 22-yard field goal.
Cutler thinks it’s “fair” to say the club’s 41-point outburst in the season opener created unrealistic expectations as to what the Bears can do offensively on a week-to-week basis. After a performance like what the Bears produced against the Colts “expectations get raised,” said Cutler, who completed 21 of 35 in that win for 333 yards and two touchdowns.
“Then when you turn around and you have a dismal performance like we did in Green Bay, there’s a bit of a panic button. We just had to get back to the brand of football we’re comfortable with, and when the big plays happen they happen. Those things just naturally have to happen over the course of a game. You can’t force them.”
In the week of preparation leading up to Sunday’s game, the quarterback’s highly-publicized incident involving left tackle J’Marcus Webb led to intense criticism of Cutler and daily analysis of him in several areas, ranging from body language to actual play on the field, in addition to seemingly daily discussions about whether he’d lost the locker room.
In the aftermath of such a difficult week, Cutler was asked if he got a good laugh from all the controversy.
“I don’t chuckle at that, no,” Cutler said. “When you lose a game, it’s tough. You have to go back and take a look at your own performance, get better and move on. That’s not a laughing matter.”