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JENSEN: Cutler, Lovie just can’t keep up with Packers in NFC North

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is 1-7 against Packers. He has nine TDs 17 interceptions 59.9 passer rating. | Thomas Delany

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is 1-7 against the Packers. He has nine TDs, 17 interceptions and a 59.9 passer rating. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 18, 2013 6:20AM



Earlier this month on his weekly radio show, quarterback Jay Cutler joked that he wasn’t going to try to “break the bank” during contract negotiations with the Bears.

Wrapping up his fourth season with the team, Cutler remains a lightning rod, drawing comparisons to Brett Favre all the way down to Jeff George.

His defenders insist he hasn’t had the offensive line or, until this season, a capable-enough receiver to throw to.

His critics will point to his turnovers, injuries and run-ins.

But the bottom line is this: Cutler is 1-7 against the Green Bay Packers, including the 2010 NFC title game; he has completed 148 of 271 passes for 1,782 yards with nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in those games for a passer rating of 59.9.

In contrast, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 9-2 against the Bears with a 98.8 passer rating and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions.

“It wears on me; it wears on everyone,” Cutler said of the Bears’ poor record against the Packers. “You don’t want to lose to your rival year in and year out. Then it’s not a rivalry anymore. It’s a domination.”

Cutler recently said he was kidding with the radio hosts when they suggested he give the Bears a “hometown discount.” He is slated to make $8.47 million in 2013, the last year of a five-year deal.

Coach Lovie Smith also has a contract that runs through 2013.

But their record together against the Bears’ chief rival has been one-sided, and the Packers have won six in a row.

Cutler’s best effort against the Packers came on Sept. 27, 2010, when the Bears won 20-17 at Soldier Field. In that game, though, Cutler completed only 16 of 27 passes with a touchdown and an interception.

The Packers have had his number, with defensive coordinator Dom Capers confusing him with an assortment of looks and pass rushers pressuring and sacking him over and over.

It was more of the same Sunday.

Cutler was sacked four times and pressured on four other pass plays in the Packers’ 21-13 victory. He couldn’t get the ball down the field, his longest pass netting only 18 yards. And the Packers once again effectively covered his favorite target, Brandon Marshall, limiting him to six catches for 56 yards.

Cutler also had a costly turnover, a result of a miscommunication with receiver Devin Hester — playing the slot for only the second time — in the final two minutes of the first half.

“Uh, the route I ran was the route I was supposed to run. It was just …” Hester said, pausing. “We just weren’t on the same page.”

And, once again, Cutler was battered afterward.

“Nothing is great,” Cutler said of his health. “But the other guys are banged up, too. It’s not going to stop me from playing.

“So that’s all we need to know, I think.”

So Cutler, 29, prepares for the last two games of the season, his future in many ways dependent on his performance.

Shine as he has in a few instances this season, and the Bears could eke their way into the playoffs and perhaps make a run, thus ensuring continuity on the coaching staff and his security as the team’s franchise quarterback.

But stumble and struggle, and he could find himself at the mercy of a new coach, much like he was in 2009, when Josh McDaniels ultimately pushed for his trade to the Bears.

“We’re down, but we’re not out,” Cutler said. “We’ve got to piece this thing back together — however we do it.

“We have to find a way to win these next two games and let things fall where they may.”



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