By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) — Yes, he’s maddening. And he looks like that guy in college who you always wanted to punch in the mouth, just because.
He’s also the best QB in Bears history, and he made it clear why Jerry Angelo traded away half a draft and a serviceable journeyman to get him.
Jay Cutler just won a season-defining game pretty much by himself, as he was expected (and paid) to do. They got him to do what he did in a game like this.
Even established loon Mike Martz has realized such, finally moving the pocket and using some quick post-snap misdirections to suit Cutler’s pick-and-stick skills, and limiting the cumbersome pre-snap shifting that was apparently designed to produce false starts and illegal-motion penalties.
We’ll talk about the pass rush, the relentlessness of Lance Briggs and the mostly-ageless Brian Urlacher, the physical play of the cornerbacks and the successfully bailing-wired-together offensive line. We will credit an uncharacteristically blitz-happy defensive gameplan, in which DJ Moore was asked to channel his inner Wilber Marshall, making Ditka-mustachioed schlubs bang their mugs on the bar and exchange not-really-gay man-hugs.
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But we know the difference in Philly.
Cutler pop-up-slid and flipped, rolled the pocket, rolled his eyes after two bombs were dropped, survived numerous hits, and found two touchdowns against pressure.
Even as Matt Forte was halfway to losing the game by fumbling away 14 points, the Jerky QB picked him up by flat out ballin’.
Break down passer-efficiency ratings to your heart’s content. Slice and dice success by whatever clumsy football metric is there to mis-measure individual performance in a true team game.
But Cutler was the single, primary reason the Bears just kept mattering for a while in a typically crazy NFL season.
The bizarre, public drive to over-commit money to Forte hit the brakes, even though he played well. As good as he is, and as valuable as he may be, running-backs are just running-backs, not passers. LeSean McCoy is better and more talented than Forte, clearly to anyone who saw the game.
It looks like Martz is starting to get it, either by re-watching old Denver tape or being hypnotized by some crystal-gazer at a traveling gypsy carnival. The seven-step drops have been replaced by lateral movement, power-run traps and the congruent pass-game counters.
The talk of Cutler’s mechanics is done, now. Martz lost this one. He throws how he throws, using athletic, uncoachable time-buying delays to let guys get open – front-foot/back-foot stuff be damned. Either it’s complete or it’s not, and judge him on the results instead of his silhouette’s resemblance to that of Marc Bulger.
I guess Earl Bennett is better than I thought he was, but not better than I actually think he is. His relationship with Cutler may define that difference.
Lovie Smith can coach defense, no doubt. He has kid safeties covering his behind, by his choice.
But let this win be a re-commitment.
You made a bold move for a rare QB talent, so make the most of it.