Wednesday, September 18, 2013
QB Watch: Bears' Jay Cutler
By Michael C. Wright
A weekly analysis of the Bears’ quarterback play:
Rewind: Jay Cutler started much faster this week, completing as many passes (19) in the first half as he had thrown through the first two quarters of the opener against Cincinnati (19), while generating a passer rating of 106. Cutler fumbled on a sack from Jared Allen, and the loose ball was returned for a touchdown. Cutler also forced a pass on the goal line that was tipped by Everson Griffen and intercepted. Still, Cutler shook off the mistakes to rally the Bears to their second come-from-behind victory, firing the game-winning TD to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds remaining. Cutler finished with two touchdown passes and a rating of 97.2.
Fast-forward: Pittsburgh’s 3-4 front presents a challenge the offensive line hasn’t yet seen. So Cutler needs to be patient and maintain confidence in the unit if it struggles early. The Steelers failed to get to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on Monday night, and could possibly experience similar struggles against Chicago’s revamped offensive line. If that happens, expect a confident Cutler to light up the Steelers. Pittsburgh struggled against Cincinnati’s tight ends, so Cutler should be looking Bennett’s way often on Sunday.
Reduce the turnovers: Cutler was responsible for three turnovers: two interceptions and a fumble returned for a touchdown. He needs to practice better judgment and ball security. Cutler needlessly forced a pass (although I have no problem with him taking that chance) on the goal line, and another of his picks came as the result of a miscommunication with Brandon Marshall.
Prediction: Cutler’s passer rating should be in the high 90s to low 100s, and he’ll reduce the turnovers, too. He’ll get Marshall another 100-yard receiving day, but expect the main targets to be Bennett and Matt Forte.