Problems for Cutler are problems for Bears

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Problems for Cutler are problems for Bears

By Spencer Brown

Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up?

I’m sure that is many Chicago Bears fans’ spin on the line from the popular Eminem song. The question couldn’t be more appropriate.

The Bears’ quarterback’s play as of late has been bipolar and eerily predictable at the same time.

So much so that it leads me to believe Cutler is, in fact, two quarterbacks. 

I’m just not sure which two quarterbacks to classify him as.

I’m led to believe there is a road Jay Cutler and a home Jay Cutler.

Before Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, Cutler was 0-2 at home and 2-0 on the road. In those home contests, the Bears QB threw four touchdowns and four interceptions. In the road games, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Then came Week Five, which destroyed that theory. Cutler lost his first road game of the season, in which he threw two interceptions.

Maybe there is an NFC Jay Cutler and an AFC Jay Cutler.

Prior to the Panthers game, Cutler was 1-1 against the NFC, throwing for a combined 432 yards with six touchdowns and two picks. He posted an identical 1-1 record against the AFC with a total of 574 passing yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Not much there.

There is one more possibility.

A Jay Cutler when the Bears score at least 25 points and a Jay Cutler when the Bears score less than 25 points.

The Bears are 0-3 in the contests they’ve failed to reach the 25-point mark. In those games, Cutler has thrown a combined six touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Bears are 2-0 in games where they’ve scored at least 25 points. Cutler has a total of six touchdowns and zero interceptions in those two games.

With such a high-powered offense, it seems to be a travesty that it cannot reach the 25-point plateau every week. Obviously it brings the team great results.

In those losses, the defense gave up an average of 30.7 points. In the wins, just 19.5 points are given up. It isn’t fair to attribute those numbers solely to the defense and discredit their ability to stop opposing offenses.

It’s the quarterback’s job to make sure the offense is producing points. It keeps the team’s defense off the field and out of situations with bad field position where they give up points and Cutler is forced to make plays and possibly throw more interceptions.

Even still, the reality is that Cutler’s inability to protect the ball is due to being a victim of his own talent. He struggles to consistently use his amazing arm strength to squeeze passes into impossible windows and reading what the defense gives him. It shows week-in and week-out, sometimes even from play-to-play.  

The luxury of having Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett is a gift and a curse. At times, Cutler forces these players to make impossible catches, and those skilled players do make those plays a lot. His confidence in them and himself is high.

However there are times when Cutler becomes overconfident, almost cocky, and the result is usually those bad interceptions.

Aside from the fact that Cutler is interception-less in the two wins and has thrown two picks in each of the three losses, there are a couple of other interesting early season stats.

Cutler has his two lowest passing yard outputs in the two wins, 176 yards at San Francisco and 225 yards at the New York Jets. Cutler also had five rushing attempts in each of the two wins. He doesn’t have more than three in losses.

There are two things to take away from these numbers.

Those passing yard numbers indicate Cutler was not trying to force anything deep and took what the defense gave him. The result was a win. The rushing attempts, possibly forced by a collapsing pocket, show his ability to pull the ball down when no receiver was available downfield and make a play for his team.

But how often can we expect such an effort?

No one knows. That’s the problem. Every week is an adventure.

Who knows why Cutler is feeling so much pressure?

Regardless, he needs to pull himself together quickly if the 2-3 Bears have any shot at the postseason.

Spencer can be reached at [email protected].