Bears-Packers OL Viewer's Guide: Cutler needs to stay 'clean'

Bears-Packers OL Viewer's Guide: Cutler needs to stay 'clean'
December 27, 2013, 6:00 pm
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In recent seasons, Jay Cutler has been under assault when facing the Green Bay Packers. Cutler was sacked seven times in the loss at Green Bay last season, four times in the loss at Soldier Field. The Bears netted 126 and 135 passing yards in those games.

Cutler was sacked three times in his one Packers game of 2011, a 10-point loss.

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The Bears are 4-0 this season when they have protected their quarterbacks to the level of two or fewer sacks. They have lost to Philadelphia (five), Minnesota II (four), Detroit I (three) and New Orleans (three) when Jay Cutler or Josh McCown has been put on the ground more than two times.

Good protection is not a simple success indicator; Josh McCown wasn’t in Game 15 of 2011 and the Bears still lost by two touchdowns.

But when the Bears defeated Green Bay back on Nov. 4, the Packers got to McCown for just one sack and three hurries. They had just three tackles for loss in a game that saw the Bears run 75 plays, including 33 running plays.

“It was a very clean game offensively,” said coordinator Aaron Kromer. “We kept the quarterback pretty clean throughout the game, receivers were getting open rather quickly, we could keep our timing on and were able to run the football a little bit, so that’s what stuck out and as long as those things happen, we can have success.”

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The Green Bay 3-4 defense under coordinator Dom Capers has stymied the Bears twice annually. But this will be the eighth game this season against a 3-4 and the second look at the Packers’, against which they scored three offensive touchdowns behind McCown, something they have accomplished just once since 2007.

“I feel like we’ve faced about 20 billion of them,” right tackle Jordan Mills said, shaking his head. “The Eagles were so complex, very different looks, never did the same thing twice.

What to look for: The Packers will be without defensive lineman Johnny Jolly and rush linebacker Clay Matthews, who had surgery this week on a re-broken thumb suffered in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Former No. 1 pick Nick Perry is expected to start in place of Matthews, whose absence dramatically affects Green Bay’s ability to disrupt.

“We’re treating this as a ‘four-down [linemen]’ team. They’ve still got big guys, not necessarily two-gappers but they’re not penetrators.”