Will Cutler continue Monday night 'magic?'


Will Cutler continue Monday night 'magic?'

Time for a few night moves from Jay Cutler. That hasnt always been easy for the Bears quarterback to accomplish.

The Bears have lost all four of their Sunday night games behind Cutler in addition to a Thursday Night Football debacle in San Francisco when Cutler threw five interceptions. A win at Miami last year stands as the lonely W but in none of those six night games did Cutler post a passer rating higher than 79.6 and three were below 50.

Given that the Bears have two Sunday night NFC North games scheduled at this point (Oct. 16 vs. Minnesota, Dec. 25 at Green Bay), this Sabbath issue needs to be worked out in the interest of division chances.

But the Detroit Lions are a Monday night situation, an altogether different Cutler story.

Monday magic

The Bears have won all three of their Monday Night Football appearances with Cutler and the lowest passer rating of the three was an 82.5 against the Green Bay Packers last season. His other two MNFs were at the expense of the Minnesota Vikings with ratings of 108.4 and 106.6.

What Cutler has inexplicably been able to do on Bears Monday nights has been to deliver impact throws. In the three MNF games Cutler has thrown eight touchdown passes vs. three interceptions.

Accordingly, the Bears have averaged 32 points per Monday night Cutler game.

Reasons for Cutlers erratic night play have included speculation that his diabetes leaves him run down or vision-impaired later in days. But the sometimes-spectacular play on Monday nights make clear conclusions impossible.

A conclusion that is very possible to make, however, is that Cutler needs to improve significantly and immediately.

His passer rating has slid from a 107.8 in the opener vs. Atlanta to 46.7 against the secondary-challenged Carolina Panthers in a game when he was sacked only once and had a ground game piling up 224 yards. Cutler ranks 26th in the NFL for passer rating (77.8), right below Rex Grossman and ahead of only rookies Andy Dalton and Blaine Gabbert plus Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Cassel and Kerry Collins. His 54.2 completion percentage ranks 28th.

You look at our offense right now and we need to get more from our passing game, coach Lovie Smith said. We got more from our run game last week. I'm pleased with how we're protecting the football and some of those things like that, but there will come a time when we have to do a better job passing the ball, and we will. Hopefully it will be this week.

Lining up
Bears coaches typically do not divulge decisions on personnel until late on game days. So not surprisingly, coach Mike Tice hasn't identified his starters at right guard and tackle.

But decisions are virtually always made on the basis of winning this game. And before running through a glowing assessment of Lance Louis performance at right tackle, Tice offered one of the most critical takes in recent memory with respect to tackle Frank Omiyale.

Tice indicated that with Omiyale the goal is simply to avoid being horrendous.

When you have some bad plays, you cant compound those with other bad plays, Tice said. You try to minimize the number of bad plays you have in succession. Thats what were trying to do with Frank; were trying to keep his bad plays to sporadic as opposed to back to back.

Louis has been at right guard all season before the shuffling last Sunday from right guard (for injured Chris Spencer) to right tackle (for an inept Omiyale) to short-yardage tight end (next to Omiyale). That is Louis preferred position and indications point to that only occurring if Spencers fractured hand cannot stand the rigors of practice this week.

Spencer practiced on a limited basis Thursday with his right hand in a plastic castsplint. If he can go, the negative review of Omiyale point to Louis going to right tackle, a position he played in college.

The linemen have to go where its best for us, said Tice, noting that Louis put 10 Panthers on the ground over his 41 plays. That might mean a player not playing in the spot where hes most comfortable but where it helps us the most.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

Some decisions have ways of simply making themselves. Decisions like, say, who will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Regrettably, one aspect of that decision was made for the Bears when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken left arm in the second quarter of Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. At that moment the Hoyer-or-Cutler question was rendered moot. As FOX’s Jay Glazer had reported, the No. 1 job was Hoyer’s to lose, and the injury unfortunately took care of that. Coaches never had to make that decision.

This is clearly not the way Cutler would like to have been returned to his job. No player is pleased to have an opportunity made possible by a catastrophic injury to a teammate.

Bigger picture: The 2016 season was always a prove-it year for Jay Cutler, more so than even last year because of guaranteed money, which is now gone. The rest of the 2016 now becomes a condensed prove-it crucible, where Cutler is playing for his job in Chicago or his next team. His price for 2017 ($15 million) is modest by starter standards, but so is his resume.

Without a strong final nine games, assuming his injured thumb is sufficiently recovered after nearly six weeks off, Cutler may find himself as next offseason’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, sort-of wanted by a team but for money nowhere close to the value he and his agent had in mind.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The play of rookies Dak Presott in Dallas and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia will reinforce the message that you can start and win with a rookie right away, which projects to depress any Cutler market. Why pay a marginal veteran, which Cutler has been and certainly is at this point and age (34 next April), when a rookie can be had at a fraction of the cost?

Without a massive contract renegotiation, a scenario of Cutler staying on as a bridge to a young successor is beyond a longshot. Hoyer, far more likely to fit that role, and his price will not approach Cutler’s.

Cutler now has his second chance. Whether he likes it or not, it’s an audition.

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It was a bright spot, a small one on an otherwise dismal night of losing to the Green Bay Packers. But it was at least something.

After struggling for months to stay healthy and gain NFL weight, Leonard Floyd finally played like the ninth-overall pick of an NFL draft.

The rookie outside linebacker collected a sack in the first half, then exploded past Green Bay right tackle Brian Bulaga as part of stunt with fellow linebacker Willie Young on the third play of the second quarter for a second sack of Aaron Rodgers, one that came with a strip of the football and recovery in the end zone.

"We had a great play called,” Floyd said. “Willie came down and picked the guard for me and I looped around and the play was done and I made it. It felt great [to get a touchdown], but at the end of the day I wanted a win."

That was one of the very few bright spots as the Packers piled up 311 yards through three quarters, at times using wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as running backs because of injuries. The drumbeat continued with touchdowns on three straight Green Bay possessions in the late third and early fourth quarters.

The defense has allowed 23 or more points in five of seven games this season, with the Packers rolling off consecutive touchdown drives of 85, 84 and 57 in the second half as the Bears were limited to 2:49 time of possession in the fourth quarter.

“It helps when you’re playing [defense], to actually have a little bit of a break,” head coach John Fox said. “Unfortunately in the second half, I think that probably caught up with us a little bit.”

The defense had its fullest complement of personnel yet this season, with outside linebackers Floyd and Pernell McPhee both active (McPhee for the first time this year following offseason knee surgery), in addition to starting cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Tracy Porter, both of whom were injured during the Jacksonville game. It was not enough.

[BEARS GRADES: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers]

Defensive line: F

The interior of the line was quiet for most of the game, with wide receivers lining up as running backs averaged more than five yards per carry. Cornelius Washington had the only hit by a defensive lineman on Rodgers as the line rarely collapsed the pocket with center-push or even kept him in the pocket.

Linebacker: B-

Floyd started after two games inactive and a zero stat sheet vs. Detroit. He struggled too often getting disengaged from Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari at the outset before breaking through with second effort for his first career solo sack. That was topped by the strip-sack and recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter. Floyd had a third hit on Rodgers and a tackle for loss.

"It is very tough,” Floyd said. “He gets the ball out pretty quickly. You just have to keep rushing every snap. He is at his best when he is scrambling around playing backyard football."

McPhee was a welcome addition to a slumping defense, even in his limited capacity (19 snaps). McPhee was not credited with any tackles but was surprisingly fast off the ball initially, and got penetration to alter running lanes and some pressure on Rodgers, although he appeared to slow somewhat, not unexpected considering how limited he has been throughout the year because of the surgery.

Sam Acho provided some edge pressure with two hits on Rodgers and a pass deflected. Jerrell Freeman had a quarterback hit and delivered a game-high 13 tackles.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Secondary: D

The secondary was forced to cover long into plays because of absent pressure on Rodgers but the coverage had its own problems with an offense that threw 56 times but was never intercepted. Three Green Bay receivers totaled double-digit receptions: Davante Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10).

Cre’Von LeBlanc started at corner as the Bears opened with six defensive backs, and delivered a goal-line stop in the first quarter, stuffing Montgomery, who was used as a running back because of injuries to the Green Bay backfield. LeBlanc finished with seven tackles and a hit blitzing Rodgers.

Porter matched up with Jordy Nelson and allowed the Green Bay wideout just one catch on four targets through three quarters. But breakdowns were deadly, allowing the Packers to stage their two longest scoring drives of the season in the second half. The second came when Porter and safety Harold Jones-Quartey both covered the same man in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, leaving Adams alone for his second TD catch of the game.

Adrian Amos interfered with Nelson to give the Packers a 44-yard penalty pickup in the first quarter. De’Vante Bausby had a number of solid plays despite a lack of meaningful pressure from the front. But Bausby had two holding penalties on the Packers’ second fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"There were a lot of penalties out there.,” Bausby said. “We had a good scheme and plan, but we just didn't finish in the second half as a group. Facing Rodgers is a challenge, but I felt like our play calling was excellent. We just didn't finish."

Special teams: B

Connor Barth converted from 39 yards to tie the game in the second quarter. It was Barth’s seventh in his last eight attempts. Pat O’Donnell turned in another strong night punting, averaging 43.8 net on five punts. Coverage helped keep three of those inside the 20.