BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Down in Tennessee, Marcus Mariota went through his first nine practices without throwing an interception in team (11-on-11) or 7-on-7 periods. That represents news if only because Mariota is a rookie quarterback.
Down in Bourbonnais, Jay Cutler has gone through 10 practices without throwing an interception in team or 7-on-7 drills.
That represents news because 3.4 percent of Cutler’s passes have been intercepted over nine seasons (3.2 percent in 2014). Cutler is tied for 68th all-time, with Steve Beurlein, Gus Frerotte and others, and below Josh Freeman, Joey Harrington, among others. For reference purposes, No. 1 Aaron Rodgers has a career interceptions rate of 1.6, less than half of Cutler’s. Only one team made the playoffs with an INT rate higher than 2.7, and that was Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton (3.5), who has been a first-round playoff loser all four of his NFL seasons.
And since of the five main Bears coaching objectives this offseason, the first four were eliminating Cutler turnovers, consider this at the very least a positive achievement to this point in the process.
“Stats” from preseason matter little, and ones from practices meaning even less. If you dislike Cutler, this camp success means nothing; if you like him, you knew he always had it in him.
But Cutler, whose 18 interceptions in 2014 matched the second-highest of his career, rarely went through practices pick-free in the past, which proved quite foreshadowing once the seasons started.
If Cutler were throwing an INT a day, it would be news. That he hasn’t thrown any so far is at least a tad noteworthy. Does it mean he’ll be a better quarterback in 2015? Not necessarily, obviously. No one is saying that, not even Cutler.
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“I think it’s a combination of everything,” Cutler said. “I think [offensive coordinator] Adam [Gase] does an incredible job scheme-wise and putting quarterbacks in the right position. But a lot of it goes on the offensive line, the way they’ve played throughout camp, and the receivers getting open.
“They’ve all got to do their job and I’ve got to put it in the right spot, and those 10 other guys have done a really good job. And Adam and Dowell [Loggains, quarterback coach] and Mike [Groh, receivers coach] and Frank [Smith, tight ends coach] and everybody else on board with the passing and getting their guys finely tuned, is helping.”