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Bears’ ‘new offense’ gives Jay Cutler cause to end Packers’ hex

Updated: January 28, 2014 6:31AM



Jay Cutler stepped to the podium just as game-changing news from Green Bay was done breaking on the television in the corner of the Halas Hall media room.

Aaron Rodgers will play his first game Sunday at Soldier Field since getting lassoed to the turf by defensive end Shea McClellin and breaking his collarbone. And Cutler will be his opposition in a game that will decide the NFC North.

What does Cutler think of Rodgers’ return?

“I play offense,” Cutler said. “[Linebacker] Lance [Briggs] and those guys are going to worry about it.”

Talk about tuning out the “noise,” as the Bears say. Only this time — with a playoff berth for the taking against the Packers in the final regular-season game of a contact year — it’s a clamorous roar to combat for Cutler.

There’s no better way for Cutler to finally show that he’s a different, more capable and effective player than by beating the team that’s beaten the swagger out of him more often than not.

Cutler is 1-7 against the Packers as a Bear, which includes the NFC Championship Game in 2010. In those eight games, he’s thrown 17 interceptions and had passer ratings of 43.2, 74.9, 82.5, 43.5, 78.9, 28.2, 72.5 and 31.8.

What’s the problem?

“We weren’t as good on offense,” Cutler put it shortly.

That’s true. The Bears’ offenses the last few years haven’t had the coaching, the weapons, the blocking up front or the productivity of this year’s.

With one game left, coach Marc Trestman’s offense could set franchise records for points scored, net yards and passing yards. It already owns the team record for passing touchdowns (30), and its marks for completion percentage (64.5) and passer rating (96.5) also are the best.

The Bears quickly have become a team that will only go as far as the offense dictates, and it’s an offense under the control of Cutler. And no one player can disrupt an offense more than a quarterback. Trestman didn’t coach-speak his way out of that.

“The quarterback is the focal point of the football team,” Trestman said. “He’s the guy who really flies the plane. It’s not on autopilot. He’s got to fly it in all different kinds of weather. That’s what the quarterback has to do, so it’s extremely important that he plays efficiently from a standpoint of all 11, 10 other guys. He’s got to put those guys in position to succeed, and they’ve got to help him to do that as well. It’s a team game, but it is a quarterback-run game.”

With Cutler sidelined with a torn groin muscle, Josh McCown ran Trestman’s offense well in the Bears’ 27-20 victory against the Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 4. Of course, it helped that Rodgers didn’t make it out of the first quarter, thanks to McClellin.

“We attacked them really well,” Cutler said. “We had a good game plan. I think we have a good game plan this week. We’ve just got to execute.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said it’s “clearly a different offense this year” for the Bears with “a good three-step game” for the quarterbacks.

“Jay can make all the throws, all over the field,” McCarthy said. “That’s something I’ve always respected.”

It’s just that Cutler hasn’t done it enough against the Packers.

“Every year is independent of the next,” Trestman said. “I don’t know that you can define how it was [for Cutler or] how it’s going to be. We’ll know more about that at 7 o’clock Sunday night and then you got a little more to work with, but this year is this year. [Cutler] is in a new offense, with new coaches all around him.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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