Jay Cutler interception-less streak reaches 11 practices


Jay Cutler interception-less streak reaches 11 practices

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.

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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.”

Bears open as favorites in Week 7 vs. Saints

Bears open as favorites in Week 7 vs. Saints

The best thing that can happen to a team coming off of a disappointing loss like the Bears suffered in Week 5 to the Oakland Raiders is time away. Time to get back to basics, work on improving some deficiencies and, sometimes, just getting out of the national spotlight.

The Bears (3-2) will welcome the Saints (5-1) to Soldier Field in Week 7 in a game that would seem to favor New Orleans. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has excelled in relief of Drew Brees, who continues to rehab a thumb injury that will keep him out of Sunday's contest in Chicago. The Saints' defense has been fantastic as well and currently ranks 10th overall in yards allowed per game.

Chicago, meanwhile, is hoping for quarterback Mitch Trubisky's return from a left shoulder injury and is likely to be without Kyle Long (hip; injured reserve) and Akiem Hicks (elbow).

Logic would dictate that New Orleans will be a road favorite in this one, but that isn't the case. At least, not yet.

The Bears open the week as a 3.5-point favorite, which even when factoring the three-point edge home teams usually get still means the oddsmakers like Chicago to win the game outright.

Bears fans may still have the sour taste of defeat after the London letdown, but there are a lot of smart people in Las Vegas who obviously think the Bears have a chance (a really, really good chance) to win Sunday's NFC showdown.

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Mitch Trubisky working hard toward Week 7 return

Mitch Trubisky working hard toward Week 7 return

The Bears' bye week is over, which means it's time to get back to work and prepare for Week 7's matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

According to coach Matt Nagy, one player — quarterback Mitch Trubisky — didn't take any time off.

Speaking with Josh Liss of WBBM Newsradio Chicago on Monday, Nagy confirmed Trubisky spent his bye week strengthening his injured left shoulder.

"He was in here working out, every day he's trying to get that (shoulder) stronger and stronger, so that'll be the big question for us," Nagy said of Trubisky's status for Sunday. "We'll see how it goes here, really this whole week, but we're excited for him. We know every day helps us out to get him back, so we'll see where it ends up going."

Trubisky and the Bears passing offense will be the primary target for critics the rest of the way this season, especially after Week 6's marquee showdown between Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, the two quarterbacks GM Ryan Pace passed on to select the former North Carolina star.

Nagy said he and the rest of the coaching staff used the week off to sharpen their focus.

"It's always good to kind of reload and reflect on where you're at right now and I think we all got a chance to do that, so it's nice to get back in here and get after it."

The Bears will be without a key piece on offense in their attempt to get back to the playoffs in 2019. Nagy confirmed guard Kyle Long will be placed on injured reserve (hip). Long's struggles in 2019 have been well-documented and something had to give. Unfortunately, we now know it's Long's health that's failed him again. 

"That's where it's at and I want to credit him for battling through an injury and it is a tough loss," Nagy said of Long. "It's a part of the game, we understand that, he understands it and we just gotta keep plugging away."

It's quite possible Long has played his last game as a Chicago Bear.

One player who hasn't played his last game with the Bears is Akiem Hicks. But has he played his last game of 2019? Nagy wouldn't provide a timetable for his return, but don't expect the 2018 Pro Bowler to be back anytime soon.

"We're still working through all the logistics on that. It was a pretty good injury he got there. We're hoping that he's definitely able to return here by the season's end."

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