When Aaron Kromer arrived as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, he declared as his primary objective that of having the quarterback getting the ball off on time and with correct decisions.
As far as dealing with an elite pass rush on the scale of the Cincinnati Bengals, that theme was uppermost in Kromer’s thinking: “You want to get the ball out before the defense hits your quarterback, so that is the best thing you can do,” Kromer said.
The Bengals will give Jay Cutler a crash (the Bears hope not literally) course on why Kromer cited that and not offensive-line repair as the first goal.
Cutler was among the league’s worst at holding the ball in the pocket, an ironic fact given that quarterbacks behind supposedly poor offensive lines would seem to be inclined to get rid of the ball sooner rather than later.
Cutler also threw interceptions at a rate of 3.3 percent, and the one point coaches have drilled into him this offseason is the need to take care of the football.
The Bengals, using primarily just their four down-linemen for pass rush, ranked third in sacks per pass attempt. They were third in total sacks (51).
“We’re going to get rid of the ball quick,” Cutler declared. “You don’t really want to give 97 or any of those other guys a lot of time to work into their second moves because they get to the quarterback..”
While sacks and pass rush are issues for the offensive line, a key point for the 2013 Bears is how well Cutler copes with pressure. The Bengals were a modest 12th in scoring offense last year and 22nd in yardage, meaning that they are an offense that needed help in the form of turnovers.
Cutler is 25-1 for his career when he posts a passer rating of 100.0 or more, and interceptions are the single biggest determinant of passer rating.
Cutler had three games in 2012 in which he threw two or more interceptions: Green Bay I, Houston, Minnesota II. His ratings were 28.2, 16.7 and 57.0 – his three lowest of the season, and all three were Bears losses.
The Bears do not need pyrotechnics from Cutler. They need efficiency and ball security. If Cutler can provide both, the Bears should be 1-0 come sundown Sunday.
“He’s been very efficient, he’s been very even-keeled throughout OTAs, training camp, he’s worked efficiently over the last few weeks as we finished up training camp and got ready,” coach Marc Trestman said.