Bernstein: Cutler’s In Charge

By Dan Bernstein 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.

More Coverage:
Gallery: Week 9 Bears 30, Eagles 24
Bears Overcome Forte Fumbles In 30-24 Win
Bernstein: Cuter’s In Charge
Holmes: Bears Defensive Switch Pays Off
Shepkowski: The Good, Bad And Ugly Of Bears-Eagles

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.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Jacob Spiers

    Great article Bernstein! You pretty much summed it up. Although you forgot about Lance Lous man-handling Eagles Defensive Lineman like they were his Junior High Lunch trays; and don’t forget about Jay Cutler’s Jutitzu moves in the 4th Quarter while (Brett Favreing) a shovel pass to Marion Barber! Bears showed up to play the GAME, and the Bears exceptionally won the Game. Are these guys coming together, or is this just a short breath of AIR????

    • Meatless Meatball

      I think saying Jay was “Brett Favreing” is exactly the point. Jay is exactly in that mold. Favre succeeded best not when he was throwing perfectly or tossing it to receivers who could run routes with perfect precision but when he could look down the field, see the open man, and put it up with a chance for his receiver to get it.

      That’s why a comment Laurence made about Jay’s “underthrown” pass to Devin yesterday annoyed the heck out of me. If Devin were a real #1 receiver, he catches that ball. Jay’s game isn’t leading receivers to the end zone; it’s putting the ball in a place where your deep threat receiver has a chance to catch it. Laurence still seems caught up in the Martziness of Martz, the potential for long, quick strikes that lead to TDs. Jay isn’t, and never has been, that guy. Glad somebody else realizes that. Can’t wait to hear Dan and Laurence debate that — two smart football guys arguing nuances. Love it.

  • Socceriimey

    “I guess Earl Bennett is better than I thought he was, but not better than I actually think he is”

    I have no idea what that means

    • Northwest Josh

      I guess every line can’t be a homerun :) Great article otherwise, but that sentence should have hit the cutting room floor.

    • Sean Don

      I swear I’ve spent the past 15 minutes trying to figure out what that statement means?! Lbvs!

    • Charles E Parker

      Lol surpisenly I know what he means. You have to picture him saying this, with a little giggle at the end.

    • Shake That

      It means despite being proven wrong he’s still smarter than you.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Great lede Dan….yes he is annoying as all get out, but the Bears won last night because of his talent.


    I thought Cutler played two different games. Which would talk of the skewed passer rating. Good article, Dan.
    I like to see Roy Williams pick himself up and apply his talents, also.
    Did anyone else predict the 43 yard touchdown run on second and three after the turnover? Something about the Bears defense puts that at 80% likely or better.
    Still, the Bears defense was on pace towards nullifying any of Michael Vick’s athletic abilities.
    da Bears!

  • Denver Deadite

    “But Cutler was the single, primary reason the Bears just kept mattering for a while in a typically crazy NFL season.”

    This is pretty much on the money. If not for Forte suddenly having a case of fumble-itis, the Bears more than likely win by two scores or more.

    But the Bears kept doing what they’ve done pretty much all along to Vick, even with what has generally been a porous defense.

    And, yeah, Cutler was *exactly* who he should be.

  • captain6

    Great article, all the Suportons are wiping pie off their face again.

  • Harry's Phlegm

    Funny how Bernsie dismisses football metrics and instead goes with the “eye test”, intangibles, etc. But when one applies that mentality to baseball he calls you an idiot.

    That being said, I agree with everything he said.

    • Spoon

      That’s because football ‘metrics’ are about as useful as a diving rod vs baseball metrics.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        If we went with metrics in Football, then Brett Perriman was a better wide receiver than Lynn Swann, and Gale Sayers was about the same player as Frank Gore. Several HOF QB’s have 1:1 TD:INT Ratios or worse…

        …And someone would have drafted Cade McNown high. Oh, wait.

    • Bronzo

      Harry as you well know if you try and compare football / baseball metrics your going to get a great deal of push back from our friends Chris, Spoon etc.

      The Bears won last night …in my opinion, because they dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball AND because Cutler had a terrific game.

      Maybe their best game all year… Forte’s fumbles aside.

  • bobstone

    Bernstein, if you want to see someone who should be punched in the mouth, get a mirror.

  • Nick

    @Harry’s Phlegm (By Cracky),

    If you have ever listened to Berstein on air, he has said repeatedly that metrics and advanced statistics only apply to baseball. Baseball is individualized, everyone gets their turn at the plate, What you do at the plate won’t affect the next person’s execution on what they do at the plate. If the guy before me strikes out with 2 men on, I can still go up there and hit in the stands. Football is a true team game. Whether it is offense, defense, or special teams all 11 players need to work and execute together to have any kind of success.

    • Harry's Phlegm

      My bad. I stand corrected. Those are all good points Nick, Spoon, CIS, Bronzo, etc. Frankly I’ve never heard Bernsie differentiate between the two sports re: metrics but I’ll take your word for it.

      Have good day fellas!

  • Charles E Parker

    I agree with you on this but he didnt do it single handly. The offensive line really stepped up. They saw something they liked by running the ball to the right side of the line, maybe phillys d line on that side. Moved the pocket (Hello where has this been??) Our D line actually played well and when they do we win! Thats really the bottom line and that is what the Bears are. Now if we could only throw in a naked bootleg at the goal line I will be a happy fan!

  • Larry Horses neck collar

    What the hell is with this website? For the love of god, get rid of the god-damned auto-refresh!

    • The Dude

      Can we please ditch the ads that make the screen scroll up and down also??

  • EK

    I am definitely a Cutler fan, but Jesus, there was one drive last night that had me going crazy – throwing a magazine on the ground and scaring my wife while yelling lodly after every terribly under/overthrown ball (I think it was the last drive of the first half). He seemed to pick it up after that, but through all of halftime I was worried that the old Jay was coming back. Luckily, he moved beyond that and finished the game as well as he had started.

  • Sean Connery's Cackle

    Cutler deserves the praise he’s getting but where are these “numerous hits” Bernsie is talking about? The O-line played a great game last night, and that’s one of the key reasons Jay was able to do what he did. We’ve already seen evidence of what happens otherwise in the Lions game…

  • Satan

    This just in:


  • Tyler

    I love what I’m seeing from the coaching staff over the past three wins. They’re realizing what this team is capable of doing and they’re scheming that way. Martz has finally realized that Jay is not Kurt Warner. He’s extremely athletic and is best suited to play this way. Keep rolling him out, moving the pocket, that is the recipe for success with Jay Cutler. Great article.

  • Jim Ribs

    Why is “McCoy is better than Forte” even in the article? Besides being a completely opinionated statement, it has no context within the article. I like Bernstein’s articles but he seems to put about 4 lines in each story that should’ve been cut.

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