15 on 6: Cutler makes most of pass protection

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15 on 6: Cutler makes most of pass protection

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
5:48 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

I never would have guessed such a high scoring affair. The Jets offense had been sputtering the last three weeks while the Bears have now put together their two best offensive performances the last two weeks. The Bears come away from this game with a lot of confidence to gear them up for postseason play.

Credit the offensive line with excellent pass protection allowing Jay to throw the ball down the field. The footing was poor for both teams, causing problems for the defenses who have combined for the most sacks over the last seven weeks. The Jets have 20 while the Bears have tallied 21 going into Sunday's contest.

Explosive players like Julius Peppers or DEOLB Calvin Pace for the Jets could not get the grip turning the corner on offensive tackles. The lack of footing slowed down their initial get-off which allowed both quarterbacks to find production in the passing game.

This game clearly shows what Jay Cutler is capable of when he has time to throw the football. The beauty of all three of Jay's touchdown passes was where he placed the ball, only his receiver could come down with the ball.

While Jay stats do not reflect how well he really played - he finished 13 of 25 for 215 yards along with the 3 TD's - I tallied four drops and two others he threw away, and two of the drops were going to be 20-yard gainers apiece. But I think Jay comes away from this game with a ton of confidence.

There is a lot of sorting out of a defense when you play against Rex Ryan. Jay never looked panicked or flustered with what he was being presented. He attacked the Jets aggressively with deep throws where he was extremely accurate with the football. Outside back-shoulder touchdown throws to Devin Hester and Johnny Knox displayed how ball placement leads to big plays and, for the Bears today, big scores.

If Jay continues to display command of this offense and his throws lead the Bears past Green Bay, a Super Bowl will definitely be in their near future. That was playoff-caliber football Jay executed Sunday vs. the Jets, which couldn't come at a better time.

Who needs Terrell Owens to get our popcorn ready? Bears fans should be excited.

Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on U.S. Cellular Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Both teams are on track to be drafting in the top five, and the inevitable “the loser is the winner” talk has made its rounds, meaning that a defeat moves the loser higher in the draft order. The reality is that neither team will tank the game for draft position.

But the chances of two woeful teams playing well are slim. The 49ers won in Week 1 and then have lost 10 straight. The Bears are trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time under John Fox.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick burst upon the NFL scene in 2012 with a blowout of the Bears in his first start. He has regained his starting job in San Francisco and is still one of the prototypical mobile quarterbacks.

But the 49ers are the NFL’s worst defense in both points and yardage allowed, and they are the worst rushing defense in the league. Expect the Bears to try exploiting that and give quarterback Matt Barkley a balanced run-pass game plan.

Prediction: Bears 24, 49ers 20

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.