The first stated objective of Aaron Kromer when he arrived as Bears offensive coordinator was to work on getting the football out of quarterbacks’ hands on time as well as on target.
It is happening, which is particularly significant going into an NFC North road game with the Detroit Lions and their defensive line that includes three No. 1 draft choices.
And the key to Jay Cutler getting rid of the ball on time lies in how the new Bears coaching staff is drilling him on having a sense of time with his feet.
“We don’t time him with a stopwatch, but we’re very critical of his feet,” said quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. “We know the rhythm of the throw, how long he can look at one guy and then go to the next and the next.
“A quarterback never counts in his head. He just knows, ‘this is what my feet tell me, I should go to the next guy.’ We preach that every day with Jay.”
It is apparent that Cutler is listening. Even with his completely revamped offensive line, Cutler is still under pressure. The difference now is that the ball is gone before the likes of Ndamukong Suh or Nick Fairley or Ziggy Ansah get there.
Cutler has been under pressure on 37.6 percent of his drop-backs, which is very similar to last year where he was under pressure on 37.5 percent, according to ProFootballFocus.com analysis. The difference this year is he has only been sacked on 7.3 percent of plays he has been under pressure (second-lowest rate in the league), where last year he was sacked on 19.9 percent (sixth-highest).
Cutler has been sacked just three times through three games this season. Only Detroit’s Matthew Stafford has been sacked fewer times (two).
Cutler has faced the Lions nine times in his career, eight as a Bear. He has been dominant, with the Bears winning seven of those eight and Cutler posting a 100.2 passer rating against Detroit, fourth-highest for him against any opponent. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes vs. one interception.
“I think it’s just circumstance,” Cutler said of his success vs. Detroit. “I don’t think we can pin it down on anything. They’re getting better and better on defense and offensively.
“They’re becoming a team that you’ve got to take seriously. Where we’re at in our season, especially offensively, we’ve got to get to work this week.”