Wednesday, September 11, 2013
QB Watch: Bears' Jay Cutler
By Michael C. Wright
A weekly analysis of the Bears’ quarterback play.
Rewind: Jay Cutler started slowly, throwing for 70 yards on 10-of-19 passing in the first half. In the second half, he threw for 172 yards and a touchdown to bring back the Bears from an 11-point deficit. Despite the slow start, Cutler remained calm, and against pressure from five or more defenders, he completed 8 of 10 passes for 94 yards. It’s worth noting Cutler ranked 33rd in Total QBR last season when teams brought five or more rushers. In what turned out to be the game-winning drive, Cutler hit 3-of-4 for 63 yards, including a 19-yard TD to Brandon Marshall, and scrambled for an 18-yard gain.
Fast-forward: Geno Atkins tested the interior of Chicago’s line last week, and Vikings defensive end Jared Allen might be a disruptive force on the outside against Jermon Bushrod. Cutler needs to stay cool under pressure. Cutler demonstrated confidence in the line in Week 1, but he’ll need to do it again against the Vikings. Bears head coach Marc Trestman lauded Cutler for hanging in the pocket long enough during blitzes to find open receivers for big gains. He’ll face similar circumstances this week but should be aided by more production from the rushing attack.
Smoother no-huddle execution: Chicago worked some no-huddle offense early against the Bengals but scrapped some of it because Cutler’s calls didn’t mesh with the personnel groupings and matchups on the field, which forced the Bears to burn timeouts. Look for Chicago to improve against the Vikings as Cutler continues to gain familiarity with the system and Trestman speeds up deployment of the personnel groups.
Prediction: Cutler threw interceptions in both games against Minnesota in 2012 and finished with passer ratings of 86.5 and 57.0. Look for him to eliminate the turnovers and generate a passer rating hovering somewhere in the 90s.