Will the 'real' Jay Cutler please stand up?

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Will the 'real' Jay Cutler please stand up?

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
2:47 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Seattle Seahawks know as little about Jay Cutler as the general public, the Bears should be in very good shape on Sunday.

As he does most weeks at his standard weekly press conference, the Bears quarterback took questions Wednesday. One was from an out-of-town writer, wanting to know from Cutler how many in the crowded media room really knew Cutler.

I dont know, Cutler said. Youre gonna have to poll these guys, I guess.

A couple of hands attached to senses of humor went up in the back of the room.

Right there, thats one, Cutler said, smiling. Two.

Why is that the case? he was asked.

Because they raised their hands, Cutler said, deftly dodging the real question. I dont hang out with anybody in this room on a regular basis except for Wednesday press conferences. So Im sure its kind of hard to get to know somebody within a 10-minute weekly press conference.

But if his demeanor, the looks away from whoever is talking to him or the other indicators suggest standoffishness, those who see him the most insist thats not the real Jay.

There have been Bears quarterbacks thoroughly disliked by teammates. Cade McNown comes immediately to mind. Jim McMahon had the offensive side of the locker room behind him and some on the defensive side ready to punch him out. Olin Kreutz once had to be restrained from taking out Moses Moreno during a pre-practice snapping drill in training camp.

Derisive comments were made by the likes of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher about Cutler when he was acquired. But those were taken largely out of context and fell under the general heading of defensive guys considering all quarterbacks a sub-species.

Cutler is nowhere near that list or description.

I probably know him better than yall do, said running back Matt Forte. I will tell you that hes probably the opposite of what you media guys portray him to be. Jays a good guy who comes to work every day to work hard. A lot of guys get this perception of Jay as whatever, arrogant, but I think hes the opposite of that.

Not interested

Of all the quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matt Hasselbeck and Cutler Cutler has perhaps the poorest reputation, something that followed him from Denver. (Ben Roethlisberger is also still in the playoffs but neither Cutler nor the rest of the group deserve to be lumped into any reputation or personality sentence with Roethlisberger and his off-field conduct.)

Cutler is active through his foundation in working against diabetes, but his public appearances at schools and such have not always been comfortable experiences for either Cutler or those waiting for him, sources said.

But public perceptions are far less important this time of year than what teammates think of him. Cutler, as quarterbacks routinely do, occasionally attended the traditional weekly offensive line dinner, although that custom was discontinued some weeks ago after being moved to Monday nights.

Cutler and the team have strictly limited his availability to Wednesday press conferences and post-game podium Q&As. So if few people have any real idea what Cutler is like as a person, thats Cutlers choice.

As soon as they put cameras in the huddle and on the sideline and tape everything, which is pretty close, said Kreutz, youll never know who guys really are.

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 defensive problems vs. Cowboys not complicated (unfortunately)

Bears defensive problems vs. Cowboys not complicated (unfortunately)

That the Dallas Cowboys were able to put 447 yards, almost 200 of them running the football, and 31 points on the Bears was concerning in itself. The way much of it happened, however, was perhaps more concerning, even if not completely surprising.

And the issues were in more than one area.

The rushing yards, of which 140 were provided on 30 carries by rookie Ezekiel Elliott, were largely gained by simply pounding away on an undermanned Bears front seven. The Bears have allowed 10 runs of 10 yards or more; five of those came in Dallas.

The problem was an alarmingly simple one. Not scheme, not missed assignments.

“We were getting blocked and not getting off blocks well enough,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said on Wednesday. “But basically getting blocked most of the time, a guy or two every time was just getting blocked.”

The defense was without linchpin and nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) as well as inside linebacker and co-captain Danny Trevathan. In Trevathan’s spot, rookie Nick Kwiatkoski started and played on 18 of Dallas’ snaps (26 percent).

He did OK,” Fangio said. “Again, he was part of those guys that got blocked some. Had some good plays, some not so good. The first play of the game that popped out of there for 21 yards, he was at the point of attack on that one. It was OK, hope for better, expect better moving forward.”

The Bears use something of a hybrid form of gap control, not strictly two-gap with linemen responsible for gaps on either side of the blocker in front of them, and not strictly one-gap, with a tighter responsibility but with expectations that the defender get more penetration and disruption.

The system is what one lineman described as “gap-and-a-half,” playing their assigned gap but also with responsibility to help out with one other assigned gap. They are not head-up on offensive linemen, being slightly shaded toward a gap a’la one-gap schemes most of the time.

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The Bears generally were unable to control either their assigned or their secondary gaps.

The issues were not confined to the run defense. The Bears’ pass rush was virtually non-existent (zero sacks, one hit on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott) and yet it allowed Prescott to scramble free three times, converting first downs on all three.

“Our rush wasn’t good enough when they weren’t throwing it quick,” Fangio said, “and it was evident by the times [Prescott] scrambled. He scrambled three times for first downs and they hurt us.

“Our rush wasn’t good enough. There are a lot of passes that the rush won’t be a factor because it is coming out fast. But we have to get better coverage to make them hold the ball longer, too.”

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Brian Hoyer spent Wednesday’s practice as the presumptive No. 1 quarterback, sources said, and with Jay Cutler limited due to his thumb injury, the Bears began prep for the Detroit Lions next Sunday in Soldier Field with Hoyer getting more used to the offense that he has only sparingly run since training camp.

Some of Hoyer’s teammates spent Wednesday’s practice getting a little more used to him.

A veteran of 27 NFL starts, Hoyer doesn’t do things the way Cutler does them. He doesn’t throw as hard. He doesn’t throw as far. And he runs a sort-of hurry-up offense compared to Cutler.

“Hoyer has a real good sense of urgency to him,” said left tackle Charles Leno Jr. “He’s more fast paced. He likes to quicken up things, whether it’s the cadence, the flow – he just has a real natural sense of urgency about himself.”

This involves more than just a feeling. The Bears ARE faster under Hoyer, based on one very unofficial measure, because game situations differ even though the Bears ultimately lost all three games.

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Based on snaps and time played, the Bears have run 2.2 plays per minute with Cutler. They have run 2.6 per minute, approaching 20 percent more, under “urgent” Hoyer.

The play rate, however, is not entirely on the quarterback. Like all teams, the Bears build tempos into their system, and defenses also dictate some of how the Bears elect to work.

Still, “Jay is more laid back, more relaxed, even-keeled,” Leno said, smiling. “But that’s just Hoyer, more sense of urgency."