Bears

How Adam Gase's 'plan' for Bears QB Jay Cutler is working

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How Adam Gase's 'plan' for Bears QB Jay Cutler is working

Just as an aside here: Not that it’s worth spending too much time pondering at this point, but as I’ve noted once before, this is quite possibly the only Chicago season that Jay Cutler will have to work with offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

If Cutler does poorly, he is unlikely to see another season as a Bear. If Cutler and the offense do well, Gase is unlikely to be passed over for head-coaching opportunities. Something in between good and bad could play out, but Gase was interviewed for top jobs last offseason and his appeal isn’t apt to decline with a year making over Cutler and an offense.

But that’s off in the future. The present is considerably more interesting at this point, particularly the zero-interception game Cutler just played. Here’s why:

One of the prime directives guiding Gase when he took the Bears job was eliminating or at least substantially reducing the turnovers that have defined Cutler’s career. After weeks of due diligence in the form of calls to Cutler former (fired) offensive coaches to gain insight into Cutler, Gase’s plan became to truncate, not the playbook, but rather Cutler’s flexibility options within it.

[MORE: Frustration growing around injury status of Alshon Jeffery]

The result has been a more controlled Cutler, still capable of cataclysmic turnovers, but one with limited audible latitude (somewhere Aaron Kromer is smiling) and greater clarity of purpose, which typically translates into cleaner execution.

With an interception-less game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Cutler’s interception rate dropped to 2.3 percent, nearly to the career-low (2.2 percent) that he was logging in 2011 when he had the Bears at 7-3 before breaking his thumb. Not coincidentally, that was under Mike Martz, who similarly gave Cutler a very short leash on decision-making and who was one of those on Gase’s call list earlier this year.

One or two epic games do not a turnaround make. More than one or two “new” Jay Cutlers have materialized over the years. And Cutler has yet to post a turnover-free 2015 game, a four-game record that continued with his losing the football for a sack-fumble Kansas City touchdown.

But what Cutler has done is dial up his playmaking at crucial points when he does keep footballs in his team’s hands. If the interception arrow continues to trend downward as his leadership one is pointing upward.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“We're here to get players better and we expect our players to be receptive and do the things we ask,” said coach John Fox. “And from the very beginning as far as learning the offensive system, some of the accountability it takes at the quarterback position, [Cutler] has been all in and worked real hard with the offensive staff learning the system, putting in the time it takes to execute it and I think he's grown and he'll continue to grow.

“We’re six months into it from just a learning aspect, not even practicing aspect, but I like what I've seen and I expect him to get better moving forward.”

Hall of Fame writers rank Jay Cutler behind Brandon Marshall on all-time Bears list

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USA TODAY

Hall of Fame writers rank Jay Cutler behind Brandon Marshall on all-time Bears list

The summer days of the offseason are prime ranking season, and the Bears official website is entering the mix as part of the team’s 100th season celebration.

Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson ranked the top 100 players in franchise history for their upcoming centennial scrapbook, and Monday the team released the first 25 names on the list.

The biggest standout was quarterback Jay Cutler, who ranked 85th.

Plenty of Hall of Famers should rank above the Bears’ all-time leading passer, but 84 is quite a few.

It’s hard to compare a modern quarterback to players from previous decades, like 82nd-ranked George Blanda, but Cutler even came in behind the likes of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, neither of whom spent more than five years in Chicago.

Third-year safety Eddie Jackson also made an appearance at 96 on the list, and beloved former long snapper Patrick Mannelly started off the list at 100.

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 11-17

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 11-17

A lot has changed since the NFL released the 2019 schedule. Teams have added through the draft and free agency, and learned more about their rosters with rookie minicamps. Now with all that behind us, let’s take another look at which opposing rookies could make an impact in 2019. We’ll go over the first five opponents on Wednesday, the next four on Thursday and the last four on Friday.

Week 11 at Rams

If LA doesn’t re-sign Ndamukong Suh they’ll have a major vacancy on their defensive line: enter fourth-rounder Greg Gaines. The Rams traded back into the fourth round to snag Gaines, so clearly they think highly of the first team All-Pac-12 DL who had 56 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season at Washington.

Week 12 vs. Giants

The Giants made the biggest splash of the draft by selecting Daniel Jones No. 6 overall. Reactions to the picks in the media and on social media were very similar to when the Bears traded up to pick Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 overall in 2017, and Trubisky has already publicly given Jones advice for how to deal with the negative attention. Will Jones follow in Trubisky’s footsteps and have replaced Eli Manning under center by the time the Giants visit Chicago?

Week 13 at Lions

See Thursday’s preview of Bears’ opponents. 

Week 14 vs. Cowboys

Fourth-round pick Tony Pollard is the lesser-heralded running back from Memphis rather than Darrell Henderson, but he can run and catch. Over his last two seasons, he put up 782 rushing yards, 994 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns. He also adds much needed depth to the Dallas running back room, as the leading rusher behind Ezekiel Elliott last season was Dak Prescott with 75 attempts for 305 yards. After that, it was Rod Smith with 44 attempts for 127 yards.

Week 15 at Packers

See Wednesday’s preview of Bears’ opponents.

Week 16 vs. Chiefs

If Tyreek Hill doesn’t play this year due to domestic violence allegations, second-round pick Mecole Hardman could get a lot of snaps at WR in his stead. Hardman can blow by defenders, like Hill, and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine. That number was good for fifth-best among all participants this year. On the field for Georgia, he caught 35 balls for 543 yards and seven touchdowns. He added a punt return touchdown, as well.

Week 17 at Vikings

See Wednesday’s preview of Bears’ opponents.