'Loss' of Kevin White affects one Bear in particular: Jay Cutler


'Loss' of Kevin White affects one Bear in particular: Jay Cutler

The “loss” of Kevin White, if you can actually be said to lose something you never had, will have obvious ripple effects, both during his absence and even when/if he returns this season, since he will be far back on any learning curve for rookie wide receivers.

The all-too-obvious upshot is the underscoring of the importance of offensive coordinator Adam Gase making good his and John Fox’s stated commitment to running the football. That was going to happen anyway, but consider it a survival skill now, with simple things like a return to health of the offensive line and someone to share the carries load with Matt Forte.

But for any of that to work at all starts with one simple thing from one often not-so-simple Bear: Jay Cutler.

[MORE: Bears position duels ramping up heading for Indy]

The absolute focus this offseason has been cutting into Cutler’s career-defining propensity for turnovers. That’s why his near-interception-free training camp has been of more than just amusing interest.

Because without White, the Bears lose their projected best home run threat, meaning they become less able to play from behind, which is where Cutler interceptions will help put them. And it puts a still-forming defense on a short field, which it absolutely cannot afford.

Cutler played his best football – 17-8 regular season – in a stretch from 2010 through the 7-3 start in 2011, when Mike Martz trimmed Cutler’s decision-making. Cutler ultimately clashed with Martz but the formula, with the Bears running more than 44 percent of the time in 2011 worked. And more than a little coincidentally, it worked because Cutler was on the way to the lowest interception percentage (2.2 percent) of his career.

The Bears don’t need the cliché’d gunslinger; they need a game manager, more than ever. Besides tight end Martellus Bennett, Cutler will be working with just two starter-grade wide receivers - Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal - and if the Bears muscle up run blocking with an extra tight end, Cutler will be working with second-tier talents there as well.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Be in no doubt as to the importance of how Cutler fares over three days (two practices, one game) against the Indianapolis Colts. The Bears aren’t.

“When we get to practice against Indy, that’s a whole different animal,” Gase said. “Now you’re going against those guys twice and then playing in a preseason game. All that’s good development for us, to see where we’re at, so we have a better idea when we head into that first game of who we are, of what we need to be, how we want to play. And to see where [Cutler’s] growth is overall in the next five weeks.”

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots


NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots


Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.