Packers game a chance for Cutler to cast out demons

Packers game a chance for Cutler to cast out demons
December 26, 2013, 12:00 am
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Reflecting on a previous disastrous performance and loss, Jay Cutler cut right to the chase:

“Whenever you lose a ballgame there's going to be some confusion execution-wise, and with just the way they lined up,” Cutler said, looking ahead to playing the Green Bay Packers. “We just have to be on it with what we do. I don't think they're going to reinvent the defense over there; they're not going to do something we've never seen before.

“We just have to be on it and go through our rules with what we have to do and just make plays happen.”

[MORE: 15 games into 2013, Bears still an unknown]

But the “ballgame” Cutler was referring to losing was not the debacle in Philadelphia with the Eagles. It was the first Green Bay game last season, a 23-10 no-contest in which the Bears were down 23-3 midway through the fourth quarter and in which Cutler had thrown four interceptions, been sacked seven times and gotten into a very visible dressing-down of left tackle J’Marcus Webb. It was the Bears’ only loss in the first half of last season.

The problem, however, was that in the team's second meeting in 2012, the Bears were not “on it,” did not go through their rules and did not make plays happen. The score was closer the second time (21-13) but Cutler and the offense improved only from 188 yards to 190, from seven sacks to four, and Cutler from four interceptions to one.

That was the last time Cutler saw the Packers, with Josh McCown getting the Bears past the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in the teams’ first game this season.

No team Cutler has played more than twice has held him to a poorer passer rating (61.5) or worse record (1-7). No team has intercepted him more often, 16 times in eight games. Minnesota’s interception rate against Cutler is a distant second: 11 picks in nine games.

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He has reached the playoffs just once in his career and the team that kept him from a Super Bowl that year (2010) was: the Green Bay Packers.

To get back to the playoffs, Cutler has to get past the team that has embarrassed him more than any other in his career. Marc Trestman and his staff were hired in part with the assignment of bringing Cutler to another level, and that necessarily includes getting Cutler past the Packers and taking the Bears with him.

And part of that assignment involves a healthy bit of selective-thinking.

“I don’t have any experience with [Cutler’s Packers problems],” Trestman said this week. “So it would be really hard for me to comment on that. I don’t know that there’s trends or historical perspective on it. That’d be a difficult question for me to answer.”

Sunday should provide something of an answer.