Will Cutler continue Monday night 'magic?'

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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.

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.

Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

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Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

In the latest Bears Talk Podcast, Jim Miller joins Pat Boyle to discuss the friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio. And are there changes in store for the Bears coordinators?

Plus, Brian Urlacher and Mark Schanowski break down the play of rookie Leonard Floyd and find out which one of Urlacher’s former teammates Floyd reminds him of.

And don't miss a preview of Sunday’s NFC North clash with the Lions, who will be out for revenge.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: