Five Chicago Bears To Watch This Week

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Sep 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) passes the ball against Green Bay Packers defensive end Josh Boyd (93) during the second half at Soldier Field. Green Bay Packers defeats the Chicago Bears 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Cutler, Quarterback

It wouldn’t be a Chicago Bears game if Jay wasn’t one of the players to watch for the Windy City faithful.

I thought Jay played pretty well against Green Bay, and was surprised when I saw the relatively poor stat line of 18 completions in 36 attempts for 225 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Yes, the interception was brutal – and came at a bad time in the fourth quarter as the Bears were inside Packers’ territory down eight points – but I saw a quarterback who looked confident in yet another new offense.

Sep 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) rushes the ball against Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

From the outside looking in, it looks like even more is asked of the quarterback in this system. The Bears spent much of the Packers game in the no huddle, but not in a rush; instead, Cutler used the pre-snap time to get guys in the right position and make sure the offense has the right play. Every quarterback has to do this in some form, but getting everybody on the same page when you don’t start in a huddle is harder, and not something Cutler’s had to do before. He looked good doing it.

Now it’s time to take another step; whether it’s eliminating the turnovers, completing some down-the-field passes (0-4 on deep throws against Green Bay) or completing a better percentage of passes, I don’t know. But even though he played OK against Green Bay, there’s plenty of room for improvement. I don’t expect Jay to improve in all of these things right away, but if he can do one of those things, it’s going to catapult the Bears forward in terms of their chances of snagging a win against the Cardinals.

Last week he had the benefit of playing a defense that wasn’t that good against the run, allowing Cutler and company to lean on the ground game. He likely won’t have that crutch as much on Sunday. The Cardinals held the Saints – admittedly not a team famous for devoting itself to a successful running game – to 54 yards on 20 carries in Arizona’s Week 1 win. I expect the Bears will have more success on the ground than New Orleans, but they likely won’t rush for 189 yards again, either.

Cutler will have to do more work through the air, and he’ll have to do it against a talented defense, including Calais Campbell playing defensive end (more on him next), Minter and Witherspoon at inside linebackers and Peterson likely following Alshon Jeffery around the field. It will be a tough day, but I expect Jay will improve in at least one area of his game.

Next: Taking The Next Step