One vexing aspect of Jay Cutler is that, in night games, he is 2-6 vs. teams that were in that season’s playoffs. He is 6-3 against non-playoff teams in night games, leaving unanswered the question of whether he beat good teams and not just in games after dark.
But time of day isn’t really the issue. It’s now whether Cutler can continue along the ascending line he has followed through two games.
Cutler is trying to do some things he has never done before, either as a Bear or Denver Bronco. And he is attempting to do them in a difficult venue against a team with a tradition of winning that has not started a season 0-3 since 2000.
Only once in his career has Cutler posted three straight games with passer ratings of 90-plus. That was back in games two through four in 2009, when the Bears won all three before losing six of their next seven.
And while the Pittsburgh Steelers lack some of the current defensive cachet of the Cincinnati Bengals, they have been among the NFL’s best defenses year after year after year.
“You have veteran guys who have been in the system for a long time, they know the ins and outs, the strength and weaknesses of their coverages and their fronts,” Cutler said. “They’re really solid. They show a lot of different looks, so you have to be prepared.”
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The Steelers ranked in the top five in virtually every significant defensive category last season. Their scheme is one which forces quarterbacks to make decisions on a defense that, in Cutler’s case, he doesn’t often see.
It will be incumbent upon Cutler to solve those riddles. Early, fast and often. And on the road, at night, in front of a traditionally loud crowd.
“It's always more difficult,” coach Marc Trestman said. “So there's a lot that goes into it. It's certainly doable. We feel we've got a good bead on it. We've got to go in the noise and be able to handle it with an environment that is going to be very difficult to communicate in.”