Chicago Bears: Five Things to Watch in Preseason Opener

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Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. The Lions defeated the Bears 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

How will Jay Cutler play?

A day in the life of a Bears fan without a Cutler discussion is unheard of, so let’s get it over with.

Cutler has drawn solid, but not rave, reviews from Gase so far in training camp. He’s learning the system well, and has drawn praise from Gase for that, and as of this writing hasn’t thrown an interception in training camp.

Well, now it’s time to actually see him in action against guys that are allowed to hit him, and his old friend Ndamukong Suh is playing his first game with the Dolphins, and Suh has seemed to enjoy bodyslamming, leg whipping and elbowing Cutler in the past.

The primary thing to watch, though, will be whether Cutler turns the ball over. Last year’s stats are well-documented; 18 interceptions, six lost fumbles. Everyone’s in agreement that he needs to cut down on that total, which has become a familiar refrain in his seasons with the Bears.

Sep 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (69) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) and forces a fumble during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

He’ll be playing without rookie Kevin White, which will hurt their chemistry prior to the start of the regular season. And without former favorite target Brandon Marshall, Cutler should be looking to spread the ball around. He’s got plenty of targets: Jeffrey, Royal, Bennett, Forte, Wilson and others.

If Cutler can distribute the ball around, something he didn’t do too much of last year, it will mark significant progress and hopefully will be a harbinger of how he’ll approach the offense during the season. Doing so will force teams away from focusing on stopping one or two targets, and should open up opportunities for all the receivers.

In learning a new scheme and under a new coaching staff that has zero ties to him after this season, Cutler will likely play more in the preseason, as the coaching staff will seek more and more evidence to review before deciding on his future with the Bears.

With that added pressure, Cutler should be buckling down, something that could bode well for the Bears offense this season. Thursday marks the first night of evidence as to whether he’s done that.

Next: Marquess Wilson Stepping Up with Kevin White Injured

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