By Adam Hoge-
GREEN BAY, Wis. (CBS) — All week long Jay Cutler was on the practice field helping backup quarterback Josh McCown get ready for Monday night.
Sure, he was probably enjoying the opportunity to whack the football loose with the big padded bat in the ball security drill a little too much, but he’ll probably get what’s coming to him when he returns to practice, which may be as early as Thursday.
Essentially limited to a coaching role after injuring his groin two weeks ago, Cutler made the most of the week and his head coach and teammates praised him after Monday’s 27-20 win over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
“He had the call sheet and came by two or three times and either said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing’ or ‘here’s a couple thoughts.’ He was really good on the sidelines,” head coach and play caller Marc Trestman said after the game.
Cutler’s main job Monday night was to make sure McCown had each play call correctly, as Trestman usually starts planning ahead to the next play as soon as he relays the call into the quarterback’s headset.
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Trestman also said Cutler was “outstanding” in the quarterback meetings all week and the offensive players were quick to give him credit after the game.
“I feel like they did a great job, between Jay and Josh, in preparation for this defense,” right guard Kyle Long said.
An ESPN report right before game time indicated that Cutler plans to return Sunday against the Lions, but Trestman did not confirm that after the win, simply saying that he will return when the doctors say he can.
Because of the short week, the Bears will only practice Thursday and Friday, so Cutler’s progress likely won’t be known until Thursday at the earliest, although the team will have to release an injury report Wednesday.
Pass Rush Improves, But Big Plays Still A Problem
Julius Peppers’ stat line was impressive and it will probably look even better after the league reviews the game.
The defensive end finished with one sack, one tackle for loss, one interception and two passes defended, but he’ll likely get credited for one more sack as Shea McClellin was credited for one when it was really Peppers who tripped Packers quarterback Seneca Wallace up.
McClellin’s stat line included three sacks as a result and he also added two TFLs and three quarterback hurries in what was without a doubt the best performance of his two year career.
“We definitely felt a lot of pressure and we needed a game like this where we stepped up. It was a team win,” McClellin said.
Unfortunately, the Bears defense, which greatly benefitted from Aaron Rodgers suffering a collarbone injury on McClellin’s first sack of the game, still had problems stopping the run. Packers running back Eddie Lacy ran for 150 yards on 22 carries and James Starks added a 32-yard touchdown run as well.
“It’s been different things every time,” rookie linebacker Jon Bostic said about the big plays that were allowed.
Fellow rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene admitted to being out of his gap on one of the big runs, but missed tackles by the safeties made the bleeding worse.
If there was any good news for the defense, it was that linebacker James Anderson was praised for his work calling the plays with Lance Briggs out with a shoulder injury.
Special Teams Issues
It was not a great night for the Bears’ special teams unit, which allowed a blocked punt and a surprise onside kick. Those plays led to 10 of the Packers’ 20 points.
“I was trying to steal a series,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said about the onside kick call. “It was something that we had been working on. I thought the timing was right.”
The call came in the third quarter right after the Packers scored a touchdown to tie the game at 17. After recovering the kick, Green Bay added a field goal to take a brief 20-17 lead.
“We went down and got three points out of it. I thought it was a good opportunity and worth the risk,” McCarthy said.
The Packers also scored a touchdown after a blocked punt in the first half. Bears tight end Dante Rosario appeared to miss his block on the play and Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore went free to make the play. Starks ran for a 32-yard touchdown on the very next play to give the Packers a 10-7 lead.
– Brandon Marshall had a big night with 107 receiving yards on seven catches and a touchdown.
– Long snapper Patrick Mannelly was wearing a walking boot on his right foot in the locker room after the game. No injury was announced during the game.
– The Bears’ win snapped a 10-game home winning streak for the Packers and a six-game winning streak against the Bears.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.