Bears face 'Cutler Time' vs. Packers


Bears face 'Cutler Time' vs. Packers

In the wake of the Bears loss to the Minnesota Vikings, coach Lovie Smith indirectly explained the biggest single reason why the Green Bay Packers have dominated his Bears since Aaron Rodgers succeeded Brett Favre.

Their defense out-performed our defense yesterday, Smith said last Monday.

He wasnt talking about the Packers. And defenses dont face defenses, obviously.

But the simplest reason why the Packers have been better than the Bears for the past several years is that their quarterback out-performs the Bears quarterback.

The Packers have survived and even flourished this year and in 2010 despite an avalanche of injuries. The reason has been that Rodgers has established himself in the echelon of quarterbacks like Favre, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and other elites who are not only great in their own right, but makes others around them better.

Jay Cutler does not. The opposite; he makes himself worse in games against his organizations foremost opponent.

In the six and a half games Cutler has played against Green Bay (he was out for the second half of the NFC Championship game and all of game 15 last season), the Bears have scored a total of seven touchdowns.

Cutler has never had a game against the Packers in which he has not thrown at least one interception. Counting the 2010 NFC title game, he has thrown 17 interceptions vs. eight touchdown passes.

His regular-season passer rating against the Packers is 60.5. Rodgers isnot.

Indeed, Rodgers posted a 99.8 rating in the teams first 2012 game despite taking five sacks. Cutlers rating, with seven sacks and four interceptions, was 28.2. That was his lowest against the Packers and carries more concerning significance because he at last had the precise No. 1 receiver he wanted. And Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams caught exactly as many of Cutlers passes (two) as that No. 1 receiver, Brandon Marshall did.

We missed some opportunities with Brandon last time; I think hed be the first to tell you that, Cutler said. But theyre going to do a good job of taking him away so for us to be successful down the road, were going to have to have other guys make plays for us.

That first other guy needs to be Cutler. Because against Rodgers and the Packers, he rarely has been:

YrGm Cutler Rodgers

09, 1 43.2 92.0
2 74.9 88.9

10, 1 82.5 92.5
2 43.5 89.7
NFC Ch. 31.8 55.4

11, 1 78.9 111.4
2 (out) 142.7

12, 1 28.2 99.8

Passer rating is not the sole measure of a quarterback and a criticism is that its formula is structured in a way that weights interceptions disproportionately. But in a game so often determined by turnovers, it is perhaps an apt standard to use in comparing Bears-Packers quarterbacks.

I often find myself quoting a great teacher of mine, Chuck Knox, said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. And he used to say all the time constantly, you have to make the plays youre afforded the opportunity to make.

Sometime on Sunday, maybe on the first or second possession to answer a Green Bay score, maybe in the fourth quarter to help save a season, Cutler will have to make the plays he too often hasnt.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Gar Forman's plan work?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Gar Forman's plan work?

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is joined by Rick Telander (Chicago Sun-Times) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) to talk Bulls. 

The panel breaks down the trade with Oklahoma City and question whether the team is better or worse now. 

Later, the guys talk about the Blackhawks' trade for Tomas Jurco and also break down the upcoming Daytona 500. Finally, Telander discusses his five-part series chronicling the Orr High School basketball team as they excel on the court and try to survive off it. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

General manager Stan Bowman saw the potential in Tomas Jurco several years ago.

For the 24-year-old forward, it wasn’t working out with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps a change of scenery, an opportunity on a team that could vie for another Stanley Cup, makes a difference. The Blackhawks are about to find out.

The Blackhawks acquired Jurco for a third-round pick in this year’s draft on Friday afternoon. The 24-year-old Jurco has played in 16 games with the Red Wings this season but has yet to collect a point. In four seasons with the Wings, Jurco had 15 goals and 24 assists in 159 games. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that, “things haven’t worked out” for Jurco there and that he wanted to go elsewhere.

Jurco was on a bye as a member of the Red Wings but, now that he’s with the Blackhawks, the bye ends. Bowman was hopeful Jurco would join the Blackhawks at practice on Saturday. Also, to clear a roster spot for Jurco, the Blackhawks reassigned Vinnie Hinostroza to the Rockford IceHogs.

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Bowman said he’s been watching Jurco for a few seasons now.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” Bowman said. “He’s been an accomplished player at a lot of different levels. He’s shown flashes in the NHL, not as consistently as he or the Wings would like, but you can see the talent and potential. You have to have some patience with these guys. It doesn’t always come together right away. I’m not expecting him to carry our team but I think he can contribute.”

It was an under-the-radar trade for Bowman but that’s not surprising. In late January, Bowman said he probably wouldn’t do much at the trade deadline; he liked how the Blackhawks’ young players were progressing and figured, if that continued, the team would be in good shape. Since then the Blackhawks have won eight of their last nine and are just three points behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild. As the Blackhawks kept winning it looked like, if they did anything, it would be a depth move.

So will there be any more moves? At this point it doesn’t seem likely, be it on forward or defense – Bowman didn’t have an update on Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) but said he’s happy with the depth in Chicago and Rockford on defense. Bowman said he’ll keep talking but, “but it’s a little bit different than in previous years when I thought we definitely needed something and were lacking in an area.”

“I’ve had a feeling about our team, not just recently but even a month ago. I liked the way this group was starting to come together,” Bowman said. “We’ve seen that enhanced over the last couple of week here. We’ve seen players step up, [Nick] Schmaltz in particular. [Ryan] Hartman’s been good all year. We’ve seen Jonathan [Toews] become a dominant player again. It gives your team a confidence that you have balance, scoring in different lines. We just added a young player to help us now as well as in the future. There’s a lot to be excited about. I’m not expecting more trades. I can’t predict more will happen but I have a good feeling about this group right now.”