Jay Cutler not afraid to sacrifice his body to lead Bears


Jay Cutler not afraid to sacrifice his body to lead Bears

Jay Cutler is a different quarterback in 2015.

Yes, he still throws off his back foot from time-to-time. Some things will never change.

But what has changed is Cutler's offensive coordinator, and it could be the best thing to happen to him since his arrival to Chicago from the Mile-High City in 2009.

Dialing it down to more of a conservative-based offensive attack which masks some of Cutler's flaws and relies more on game-management, Cutler is thriving in Year 1 of offensive coordinator Adam Gase's system.

And no further proof of that was more evident than in Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings in which Cutler delivered his second-best passer rating of the year (94.4) by completing 22-of-33 passes for 211 yards and going turnover-free for the first time in 2015. In addition to his solid performance, Cutler matched Sid Luckman's franchise record of 137 touchdowns with a first half touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.

[BEARS GRADES: Cutler makes solid plays, team fails to finish

If it wasn't for a late-game collapse by the Bears defense, Cutler would have notched his third game-winning fourth quarter drive of the season, and while it didn't technically go down as another late-game comeback, Cutler once again showed his affinity for stepping up in crunch time as he continued to earn the respect from the coaching staff and the other 52 members of the locker room.

"Another ballsy effort by Jay," Bears starting right tackle Kyle Long said. "Some exceptional throws and catches by our guys on the back end. Tremendous job finishing there at the goal line. Speaks to the kind of person he is and the kind of player he is."

If playing behind an offensive line which only had one remaining Week 1 starter still in place (Long at RT) and left guard Matt Slauson making his first career NFL start at center wasn't enough of adjustment for Cutler, how about losing Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte to a knee injury in the second half?

Still, Cutler rolled with the punches and delivered for the Bears. Cutler led a 14-play, 74-yard scoring drive that he capped off by his first rushing touchdown of the season. Cutler appeared to have a myriad of running room toward the right pylon, but instead decided to cut his run inside and deliver a shoulder on Vikings safety Harrison Smith to plow into the end zone for the score.

The toughness Cutler showed on that play wasn't lost on his teammates.

"It's always exciting when Jake makes a run," Bears tight end Martellus Bennett said. "When he lowers the shoulder you get revved up, but at the same time you're like 'Dude, what's up?' I was like 'I think you can beat him to the pylon, but I think you caught him off guard when you cut it up because he thought you could beat him to the pylon too.'

"It was always fun seeing him. He plays at max effort every single week. You know, he catches a lot of flack all the time, but the guy just goes out there every single week and gives it every thing he has. That's the only thing you can ask for from your quarterback and he's making plays, making runs, making throws, making checks, he's doing everything. He's playing phenomenal for us right now and I'm very proud of him. It's very fun to be out there with him and watching the success that he's been having at quarterback."

[MORE BEARS: Bears blow fourth quarter lead, fall to Vikings in final seconds]

Cutler's touchdown also inspired one of the leaders of the Bears defense.

"That was awesome," said Bears outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who followed up with a sack on the next play from scrimmage after Cutler's touchdown. "He sold out his body for the team. Jay is one of our leaders and everybody respects him. That's what leaders do. They sell out their body for the team."

Although his run had the sidelines buzzing, Cutler admitted afterward that he may seek a different angle on his next scramble.

"Do I remember it? Yeah. Me on 22, I don't know. He might have won that one.

"I instantly regretted it. I'm thinking the shortest distance is a straight line. I knew the situation and wanted to get a score. It was me on him and ultimately we got the touchdown so I can't regret it too much.

"I mean I felt fine. I'm not used to those types of collisions, let's be honest. That's not something I want to make a living doing but you get over it pretty quickly whenever you get the touchdown and you get some endorphins going so I was okay."

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

Following Cutler's go-ahead touchdown run, the Vikings immediately answered when Teddy Bridgewater connected with rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a 40-yard score to tie the game.

The stage was set for Cutler to get the Bears in position for a second-straight Robbie Gould game-winning field goal at Soldier Field, but what didn't happen may have shown just how much Cutler has grown as a leader this season.

Filling in for the injured Forte, rookie running back Jeremy Langford got open for what looked like it was going to be an easy reception to move the chains on a crucial third-down play. Cutler hit Langford between the numbers, but the rookie looked up field before securing the catch and dropped the ball. The Bears were forced to punt and the Vikings were the ones celebrating a game-winning field goal just minutes later.

Dejected after not making the catch to extend the drive, Langford was consoled by Cutler.

"He's going to be a heck of player for us," Cutler said. "I told him that one play doesn't win or lose a football game. I don't care what game it is and that one didn't win or lose our game."

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.