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Thursday, November 10, 2011
Lions-Bears II: Protecting Jay Cutler

By Kevin Seifert

We've noted in a variety of ways that the Chicago Bears offense has been trending upwards since quarterback Jay Cutler publicly suggested/demanded some schematic changes following a Week 5 loss to the Detroit Lions.

In that game, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Cutler threw about 84 percent of his passes behind a five-man protection scheme. The Bears lost 24-13 amid a deluge of pressure on Cutler. In the three games since then, the Bears have kept at least six men in for protection on 56.8 percent of his passes.

Ideally, offensive coordinator Mike Martz prefers to use only his five offensive linemen in pass protection. But without saying it in so many words, Cutler seems to have been the first to realize the Bears' current collection of offensive linemen needed more help than that.

Speaking to ESPN 1000 this week, Cutler said "now we have a good feel for what we can do." He praised Martz for adapting to "what we're capable of doing" and added: "We're doing stuff that we're good at and can handle."

In the three games since Martz agreed to supplement the Bears' pass protection, the Bears are 3-0, averaging 31 points and one sack allowed per game. It's hard to imagine Martz deviating from that plan against the Detroit Lions' ferocious pass rush Sunday at Soldier Field.