Chicago Bears Red Zone: Jay Cutler Week 6


Welcome to Chicago Bears Red Zone: Jay Cutler. This will be a weekly article focusing on the play of the Bears offense, particularly Jay Cutler. We will speak to his body of work, and less on statistics. How he handles the offense, and more importantly its execution.

I will also touch on some other aspects of the offensive play and will highlight what I feel were key plays that affected the game. Today the conversation will be the Lions game, and next week, since it’s a bye we will do a Week 6 game recap.

To the Lions game. What impressed me the most was how the offense played well for four quarters. They had nine drives and on seven of them they got points. In overtime, there were two possessions that resulted in three and outs. I know there has been much written about those sequence of play calls. I am not going to focus so much on that today. I will say I am a contrarian to the media narrative on it. I had no issue with the play calls.

Now to Cutler. He once again, showed he is comfortable in the Gase offense, showed good leadership, excellent pocket awareness, and was in control of the game. He was not without his mistakes, the interception being one and a serious one too. Interesting for the first time that I can remember the media is giving him a pass on it. He was credited being sacked once, but when you look at the tape, he wasn’t. He took off and crossed the line of scrimmage, but as knocked back to it. The line judge was out of position. The referee made a poor spot, but it was at the end of the half anyway.

There are three plays that I want to highlight: The interception, the read option play and finally Jeremy Langford‘s TD.

While the media has not punished Jay for the interception, since the Lions did nothing with the turnover. It still took points off the board for the Bears. Not saying it would have change things, but points are points and it can change the complexion of what teams will do.

So to the play. It came in the 3rd quarter, second down and six to go for a TD. In watching the tape you will notice several things. One, Alshon Jeffery was being held past the 5 yard threshold, some might say it was close, but the DB was facing into AJ, two hands on his jersey. That is defensive holding but no flag. It did however alter how AJ ran his route.

At this time when Alshon is trying to free himself, Jay is letting the ball go. It was clearly a timing pass to the back corner. Jay’s pass was not a good one. The ball was underthrown and the best Alshon could have done is fought for it or knocked it away. Jeffery did neither and looked lost for a moment. He later stated he lost the ball in the lights. Maybe, I think he was protecting his QB. Cutler took responsibility for throwing a bad pass. It was a good call, Jay was not hurried nor did he panic to force something. A bad throw, missed holding call and it resulted in no points. The good news it did not affect the attitude of the offense, which is a change. Not getting those points hurt.

Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The next play was Cutler’s read option. This happened on their opening drive. It was second and 11 on the Lions 11 yard line. This was an excellent call by Gase. Cutler fakes to Matt Forte and takes off to the left. Charles Leno seals, Martellus Bennett puts a good block on the OLB but Marquess Wilson fails to execute and whiffs on Devin Taylor. There was plenty of room for Cutler down the sideline even with two Lion defenders coming across.

I bring this play up to illustrate how execution is so critical. I am not saying Cutler scores but he would have been inside the five, there was that much space. If Wilson makes his block, Cutler has a chance. They still got 3 points but that lack of execution by Wilson altered things. Cutler spoke about the details on offense making the difference in the red zone, this is an example.

Last play really did not involve Jay. It was Langford’s TD out of the reverse wishbone. It was another good call, great wrinkle in the formation and Langford hit that hole hard, stayed low and found the end zone. It might seem hum drum to many, but it’s that kind formation and play calling that has made this offense better. Langford is explosive where Forte is a glider and turns it on at the second level. On the next series Cutler throws a swing to Langford who reeled off 17 yards. The thing is Langford just goes 0 to 60 in a blink. Not saying he is super fast but has immediate acceleration.

In summary, the offense put up 34 points and that should win games. Cutler is playing far better than years past. When I say better I am not speaking in terms of stats, but how he commands and runs the offense and that is what wins football games.