Jay Cutler won’t speculate whether game against Packers could be his Bears’ swan song
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter December 23, 2013 9:26PM
CUTLER VS. PACKERS
Year W-L TD INT Rating
2009 L, 21-15 1 4 43.2
L, 21-14 2 2 74.9
2010 W, 20-17 1 1 82.5
L, 10-3 0 2 43.5
NFC Title* L, 21-14 0 1 31.8
2011 L, 27-17 2 2 78.9
2012 L, 23-10 1 4 28.2
L, 21-13 1 1 72.5
*—Jan. 23, 2011
Updated: January 25, 2014 6:28AM
Jay Cutler’s first regular-season game as a Bears quarterback ended with four interceptions, at the time a career-high.
It came against the Green Bay Packers.
Things haven’t gone much better against the rivals since Sept. 13, 2009, either.
With the Bears, Cutler is 1-7 against the Packers. In four out of the eight games, his passer rating has been below 44. That’s T.J. Yates territory.
He has thrown more than twice as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (eight), and averaged only 13.25 points per game.
Coach Marc Trestman doesn’t read too much into it.
“I don’t know that there’s trends or historical perspective on it,” he said Monday. “That’d be a difficult question for me to answer.”
With the playoff play-in Sunday against the Green and Gold, it’s fair to wonder, then: will Cutler’s last career game with the Bears come against the Packers, too? Will it be a loss?
And, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, would the two be interconnected?
“I don’t think one game is going to sway their decision-making,” Cutler said on his weekly radio show Monday. “And whether I’m going to be here long-term or not.”
Sunday could be Cutler’s signature game — an NFC North crown helping, in a small way, to dull the stinging conference-title loss to the Packers almost three years ago — but the quarterback denied letting his mind wander that way.
“If we’re going to win the game,” he said, “it’s gonna take everybody.”
It already has, for better and worse.
Placing Sunday night’s 54-11 blowout loss at Cutler’s feet is akin to screaming at an airline pilot for not flooring it to make up for a 12-hour weather delay.
Down 21-0, the Bears resorted to schoolyard football, telling their strong-armed quarterback to throw the ball around the field with the faint hope of making up the deficit.
Trestman admitted it was “very, very difficult to call plays” when the Bears fell behind by so much.
With a lead, the Eagles played quarters defense, doubled Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and blitzed enough to keep Matt Forte in constant pass-block mode.
The calls were so outside the Bears’ regular game plan that Cutler didn’t watch film of the loss Monday, instead viewing the Packers’ home loss to the Steelers and the Bears’ victory on Nov. 4 at Lambeau Field.
Trestman said his quarterback played “courageously” at Lincoln Financial Field — coaching code for “he stood in there and got smacked like the slab of beef in ‘Rocky.’ ”
“He took more hits in this game than any of our quarterbacks have all year,” Trestman said. “He got back up and he kept playing.”
In that regard, Sunday’s success will more likely swing on Forte’s runs or the defense’s ability to tackle somebody — anybody — wearing a yellow helmet.
Or, even, on the Packers’ trainers.
Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews reinjured his right thumb Sunday, and looks unlikely to play at Soldier Field.
“It’s gonna hurt ’em,” Cutler said.
Running back Eddie Lacy reinjured his right ankle against the Steelers.
And then there’s Aaron Rodgers, who hasn’t played since Bears defensive end Shea McClellin made his case for Fictional Divisional MVP when he broke the quarterback’s left collarbone.
“They have good quarterbacks, certainly a great one in Aaron Rodgers,” Trestman said, “but the most-important thing that we can do is stay focused on what we can do. Green Bay’s offense isn’t going to change, whoever’s playing.”
Cutler said the Packers “have scored some points of late, but they’re used to scoring points with Aaron.”
There’s a difference.
The Bears would rather see backup Matt Flynn.
“Any time you can take an NFL MVP out of a football game,” Cutler said, “That’s a good thing.”
When Cutler returned from his left high ankle sprain in Cleveland, his teammates talked about him in human terms: Sure, he was nervous. Yes, he heard the whispers that playing backup Josh McCown might have been a wiser decision.
Toward the end of his fifth year in Chicago, the lightning rod seemed a sympathetic figure.
Monday, Cutler wouldn’t admit to feeling the same way about the season finale.
“There’s no added pressure,” he said. “This is what we’ve been building for, all season long.”
Win, and the season goes even longer.
“It’s gonna be fun,” Cutler said. “It’s what it’s all about.”