Jay Cutler is the man, despite his faults
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist September 15, 2013 8:59PM
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Updated: September 16, 2013 11:59AM
Sunday was Jay Cutler in a drive-you-nuts shell:
Two interceptions, a fumble returned for a touchdown and then, in a driving rain, the most beautiful pass you’ll see on a game-winning score with the clock down to its last embers.
‘‘He’s just cool, calm and collected,’’ said tight end Martellus Bennett, who caught the 16-yard pass that helped give the Bears a 31-30 victory against the Vikings.
Wait, what? The mercurial Cutler doesn’t even go 1-for-3 on ‘‘cool, calm and collected,’’ does he?
‘‘We have Mr. Fourth Quarter on our side in our huddle, J-Cut,’’ receiver Brandon Marshall said.
Actually, Cutler hasn’t been Mr. Fourth Quarter. In the Cutler Era, the Bears are 7-23 after trailing or being tied heading into the fourth quarter. But maybe we’re seeing a new Cutler — or the latest new Cutler.
‘‘He’s so cool; I wish I was as cool as Jay Cutler,’’ right guard Kyle Long said. ‘‘I was all fired up, and Jay’s heart was going two beats a minute, like nothing’s going on. He does a great job. He’s our leader on the offensive side of the ball, and we’ll follow him to the promised land.’’
Let’s stop before we all go into diabetic shock. The Bears are good enough to be 2-0 and lucky enough not to be 0-2. And Cutler had a good game with some rocky moments. His 97.2 passer rating was a testament to a guy who did a lot of things right despite a bad interception, a tipped pass that led to another interception in the Vikings’ end zone and a fumble off a sack that led to 61-yard return for a score.
But he’ll be remembered Monday morning for throwing a pass that Bennett had to turn and twist for, to the one place Vikings cornerback Chris Cook couldn’t be. Bennett caught it at the Vikings’ 1-yard line and dived over the pylon with 10 seconds left.
According to Marshall, Cutler told his teammates in the huddle before the drive that the Vikings were going to give the game to the Bears. If we were to apply our own scientific method here, we’d need to find out whether this is what Cutler says every time his team needs a score to win and whether it’s something all quarterbacks say.
Or we can just get out of the way and let the legend grow.
Cutler ended up being right about the Vikings on a rainy day at Soldier Field. The Bears won despite four turnovers and a 105-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson to start the game.
In other news, Devin Hester has been located. He came back rejuvenated from wherever he has been all these years, returning five kickoffs for 249 yards, including a 76-yarder immediately after Patterson’s touchdown.
Football purists might have cringed at all the messiness of this game, but there was a terrible beauty to it. That pretty much describes Cutler, too, both on this Sunday and lots of other Sundays.
‘‘He had moments of adversity in this game, and he never flinched,’’ coach Marc Trestman said.
Whether the newfound coolness that Cutler’s teammates describe is here to stay remains to be seen. There is going to be a rush to attribute the calm to Trestman’s arrival, but Trestman was quick to point out that he doesn’t talk with his quarterback much during the game. There’s not much time for that, what with the macro-managing he has to do on the sideline. Trestman deflected credit about Cutler’s effectiveness Sunday to quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.
There’s no disputing that a layer of giddiness settled over the Bears after the victory, enough to make them forget the on-field craziness that almost allowed a mediocre Vikings team to win a football game. Perhaps this will turn out to be one of those seasons where everything goes right for the Bears. They should be 3-0 when they leave Pittsburgh next Sunday.
It’s fun watching this offense, the turnovers aside. Bennett opens up the middle of the field for Cutler and takes some of the pressure off Marshall. There’s a feeling of possibility here, as though Trestman is just beginning to have fun. He is not a mad scientist; he’s a very intelligent guy who happens to be a football coach with a lot of games under his belt. That’s dangerous — in a good way.
‘‘We’re test-driving out there a little bit,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘It’s been fun.’’