TELANDER: Cutler didn’t win pretty - but he won
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com September 23, 2012 11:06PM
Jay Cutler struggled against the Rams, compiling a less-than-inspiring 58.9 passer rating. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 23, 2012 1:58AM
All last week we had the Was-Jay-Cutler-Mean-To-J’Marcus-Webb? debate. (Funny how none of us in the media mentioned that Webb is four inches taller and 113 pounds heavier than Cutler and could have, at any time, pinched his head off like the crown of a zit.)
So this week I promise not to start the Does-Jay-Cutler-Only-Win-Ugly? debate.
The topic could be revved up, of course, because the Bears 23-6 win over the St. Louis Rams was, indeed, ugly.
The Bears offense cranked out a mere 274 net yards, with one short rushing touchdown and no TDs through the air. Robbie Gould kicked three field goals, and safety Major Wright returned an interception for a touchdown. If that’s your cup of tea, drink it.
But Cutler himself was not sweet.
He completed only 17 of 31 passes for 183 yards, an interception, no TDs, and a bad 58.9 quarterback rating.
Consider that the New York Giants Eli Manning threw for 510 yards last week in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and you get the contrast.
The Bears did win and are now 2-1.
And as coach Lovie Smith said, it’s not about offensive numbers but manufacturing wins.
“I expect the offense to do what is required of them on that day,” he said. “Some days we may have to score 41 points to win. Other days it may be about ball security and making plays when we have to.’’
His 41 points reference was to the Bears Opening Day 41-21 win over the Colts. Yet, in reality, what they scored against the Rams would have been enough to win that game, too.
So, yes, this one was ugly on Cutler’s part. He hit some nice passes, but he missed badly on some, too. He scrambled for 21 yards, down to the six-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but then he missed wideouts Devin Hester and Brandon Marshall on back-to-back, poorly-aimed, potentially scoring passes. And the offense settled for a chipshot field goal from Gould instead of a touchdown.
But the Bears did win, and there has to be some credit given to a quarterback for not screwing things up. The Bears defense was aflame, sacking Rams quarterback Sam Bradford six times for 51 yards in losses and limiting him to a paltry 152 passing yards for no TDs and two interceptions.
The Rams were always behind. Bradford was always throwing into high-alert zones. His passes scored six points for the Bears and none for his own team. So how much more was needed of Cutler?
We’d all like to see the gaudy numbers, the rainbows, the bombs, the wild two-minute drills that make the NFL such a wondrously edge-of-the-chair game. But sometimes, if certain things aren’t needed, they can’t be produced.
Cutler had passes dropped by both Marshall and rookie receiver Alshon Jefferey. In fact, Marshall, the Bears biggest offensive weapon after Cutler, dropped two. Maybe in a closer game those drops would have been catches. Just out of concentration. Or adrenaline. Who knows?
“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Cutler said of the drops, before adding, “I missed a few throws, though, so it’s part of the game.”
That’s what Bradford said, too. His guys dropped several passes, including a long, for-sure-TD pass that clanged off the hands of Rams wide receiver Brandon Gibson.
“It’s just part of the game,” Bradford said. “I still trust those guys and I’ll keep throwing to them.”
Cutler was only sacked two times, which maybe was a tribute to him having told Webb to get his ``(bleeping) head into the game!’’ ten days ago. Maybe the O-line dug in because of that brief tirade.
``They had a little edge to them,’’ observed Cutler.
But maybe that edge came because the Rams’ defense just isn’t as good as the Packers’, which sacked Cutler seven times in that dreadful Thursday Night Game loss up in Green Bay.
More disturbing, perhaps, is the fact Cutler has thrown only three touchdowns this year, with six interceptions and a cumulative 58.6 passer rating. That’s not Pro Bowl stuff, that’s No Bowl stuff.
Yet the point is winning. And 2-1 isn’t bad.
Do we have a debate here? Cutler can’t win pretty?
Not yet, we don’t. Not from this cowboy, anyway.
Here’s what could get the debate going: Cutler visiting Dallas next Monday night against the real Cowboys--and losing ugly.