Bears Grades: Fourth-quarter Cutler shines again vs. Chargers


Bears Grades: Fourth-quarter Cutler shines again vs. Chargers

The game was won in the fourth quarter when Jay Cutler directed touchdown drives of 93 and 80 yards, maintained both his and the team’s composure, and won another game going into the fourth quarter behind on the scoreboard.

Cutler completed 27 of 40 passes for 345 yards, his second 300-yard game, threw for two touchdowns and a rating of 100.5, just his second 100+ rating this season.

Cutler lost the ball twice in prime field position in the first half, albeit not necessarily all on him. A San Diego blitz got to him for a sack-strip in the first quarter and a second-quarter throw toward Alshon Jeffery was intercepted and returned 68 yards for a touchdown by Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett, with receiver and quarterback clearly not running the same play.

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Cutler recovered beautifully to direct the controlled 80-yard drive that ended with a TD flip to Martellus Bennett. In the fourth quarter, after a discouraging missed field goal on the Bears’ opening possession of the half, Cutler guided drives of 15 and 10 plays with no room for errors. He followed the winning touchdown pass, 25 yards to Zach Miller, by checking out of a pass play to a run for a two-point conversion that the Bears needed for a three-point lead.

“Jay rebounded,” said coach John Fox. “Obviously it didn’t go in the first half quite like we wanted. We missed some opportunities in the kicking game, the pick-six, the sack-fumble. I think it says a lot about the guy when he responded in the second half. It’s what we’ve been seeing as coachings for most of the season. I’m excited for the guy. He’s done a great job.”

Moon's Grade: A

Jay Cutler’s work under Adam Gase focused on eliminating turnovers, something that was apparent from the outset of training camp as Cutler cut his interceptions dramatically. He is still picked off at crucial times in games – such as Monday’s pick-six – but his attention to ball security saw his interception rate dip to its lowest point in his career.

“Jay’s been finishing the game every single week,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “He’s been playing very well, checking the sign language, reading the defense. He’s been a great leader for us.”

Moon's Mid-year Grade: A-

Trubisky: 'I'd definitely like to catch some touchdowns'

Trubisky: 'I'd definitely like to catch some touchdowns'

The Chicago Bears are counting on Mitch Trubisky to have a breakout season in 2018. His rookie year was strong, but for the Bears to emerge as a playoff contender, the second-year passer must enjoy a Jared Goff-like advancement.

There's no doubting the talent Trubisky possesses in his right arm. And with a plethora of new weapons at his disposal, his production should make him appealing to fantasy football owners. But he may do more than just throw touchdowns.

"I'd definitely like to catch some touchdowns and some passes, that would be cool," Trubisky said at Halas Hall after Wednesday's OTAs. "The sky's the limit with this offense, just the creativeness that these coaches bring, there's going to be a lot of fun plays. We get the base ones down first and hopefully, we can have some fun trick plays."

Trey Burton was signed in free agency to provide a weapon for Trubisky at tight end, but he may end up throwing a few passes before the year is out. He was on the quarterback end of the famous Super Bowl LII touchdown pass (the Philly Special) to Nick Foles and spent time at quarterback as a freshman at the University of Florida.

Don't forget about Tarik Cohen, either. He attempted two passes in 2017, completing one for a touchdown (21 yards) to Zach Miller.

Trubisky is the kind of rare athlete at quarterback who an offensive coordinator can legitimately devise a few trick plays for, adding just another wrinkle in the new-era of Bears offensive football set to launch in September.

Trubisky believes Bears will stand for national anthem

Trubisky believes Bears will stand for national anthem

Mitch Trubisky met with reporters after OTAs on Wednesday and addressed the NFL owners' unanimous approval of a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field while it's performed. If they don't want to stand, they can remain in the locker room or teams will be subject to fines.

The Bears avoided the media firestorm around the national anthem last season. No one on the roster kneeled. Instead, teammates locked arms and Trubisky believes it will be more of the same in 2018.

"I’m just proud of how our team handled last year. It's in the past and I believe we’ll all stand on the field together this year," Trubisky told reporters at Halas Hall. "It is what it is. I think it’s all about eliminating distractions for the team and for the audience. Just represent yourself and the organization in the right manner.”

STANKEVITZ: NFL Anthem policy won’t keep Sam Acho, others from standing up for what they believe in

Trubisky is the unquestioned leader of the Bears, only one year removed from Mike Glennon's proclamation that this was his team. Now, with a new coach and elevated expectations, Trubisky must weather the off-field issues that naturally come with a leadership role.

No off-field issue is bigger than a comment by the President of the United States, which happened Thursday in response to the national anthem policy during in an interview on "Fox and Friends".

“Well, I think that’s good. I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms. But still, I think it’s good," Trump said. "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” 

This is an issue that isn't going away anytime soon. Fortunately, Trubisky appears ready to shoulder the heavy burden and potential strain a social issue like this can bring to a locker room.