Sunday, Nov. 29, 2010
By Jim Miller
The one element of Jay Cutler's game that has jumped out at me the last two ball games has been his decisiveness.
The direct correlation in committing to the run game the last four games, I believe, has benefited Jay when play action passes are called. Plenty of play action passes have been dialed up by Mike Martz during the Bears four-game winning streak. If you are averaging roughly 30 run plays in the last four games, the opponent has to respect it.
Then, when play action opportunities arise, it causes a slight hesitation by linebackers and safeties which has cleared up reads for Cutler. The windows to throw the ball into are bigger and the QB has felt confident in what he is seeing to pull the trigger.
Cutler has also been decisive in tucking the ball and running as well, which stresses out a defense. Normally the QB is the unaccounted man when it comes to running the football, but Cutler is quickly becoming a running threat defenses have to defend, much like the Bears defense had to account for Michael Vick Sunday.
Cutler has been uncanny in his awareness and ability to feel pressure and find the escape route out of the pocket. Most quarterbacks struggle with this element of the position because it really is a sixth sense of the game. I do not want you to recall the days of Rex Grossman, but he never had this type of feel at the position.
Do not compound the problem
Another area of awareness and good decision making displayed by Cutler on Sunday was not compounding the issues early by the offensive line.
The Bears gave up four sacks in the first half, which makes it is easy for a QB to panic or force a throw due to the pressure. Nobody likes negative plays, especially sacks where your quarterback is taking a shot, but Cutler took his medicine against the Eagles.
It is never the worst thing in the world to punt the football and allow your stellar defense to get back on the field. Cutler weighed the risk against the rewards and trusted the offensive line would sort it out in the second half.
Earlier in the year, Cutler panicked and threw costly interceptions when protection broke down (at New York Giants, vs. Washington). Now he is tucking and running or taking the negative play. He could always take it a step further and just throw the ball away when he knows there is not a fighting chance.
Overall, Cutler has been much better with his decisions in these last four games. He was exceptional today, completing 14 of 21 passes for 247 yards, with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Just clear up the sacks, because the last thing the Bears need is for Cutler to go down with an injury when everything is clicking offensively.
Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on U.S. Cellular Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.