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Breaking down the tape: A Closer look at the two Jay Cutler Interceptions

Jay Cutler threw a couple of interceptions on Sunday against the Packers. I'll take a detailed look at what happened on each pick. And before you ask, no. There will be no ongoing Pickwatch series.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Cutler has thrown 4 interceptions this season. Two in week one and two last week against the Green Bay Packers. The first week was the horrendous pick to the defensive tackle and the throw to an unaware Martellus Bennett. Last week it was the poor read on the slant and the throw to an unaware Brandon Marshall.

Four interceptions in four games isn't the end of the world. There are five quarterbacks with 5 picks this year, and 9 others with 4. There are 12 quarterbacks that have a worse interception percentage than Jay's 2.6 this season. And by the way, that 2.6% is the 2nd best of his career thus far. The only time he bettered that was in 2011, while he was working in year two of the Martzfense.

For all the talk about Cutler not making strides, statistically speaking, he is having the best year of his nine year career so far through four games.

With that being said, he's still gonna try to force something when he should just take the safe throw. He believes in his arm, sometimes to a fault, but that's also why we see him make the unbelievable throw on occasion. I went over my thoughts about Cutler a few days ago -- Jay Cutler is what he is -- so you can go check it out for some of "that" kind of Cutler discussion. This time out I wanted to take an Xs and Os look at the two interceptions from the Packers game.

I'll start with the 2nd interception first, check out the GIF below.

After the game, head coach Marc Trestman commented that the play called was for Marshall to run a hook at 18 yards. Which is exactly where Cutler threw the ball. A day after the game, Trestman called the play a "communication error" between his wide out and quarterback. Cutler also referenced the original play call (the 18 yard hook), but he also said of the play "A miscommunication on my part and his part," and "Sometimes miscommunications can be pricey."

Perhaps Jay missed a hand signal, but Marshall has to receive confirmation from his QB before freelancing. NFL players have a lot of freedom to change things, but if everyone isn't on the same page, it could be disastrous.

Yesterday on 670 WSCR in Chicago, former NFL safety Matt Bowen remarked that Packer corner Sam Shields, who made the interception, may have been sitting on the shorter routes all day. And that Marshall may have wanted to give him a double move before going deep. That's probably exactly what happened, but Marshall has to talk to his quarterback in the huddle, between plays, or on the sideline. A spur of the moment glance or hand signal without confirmation by the QB isn't acceptable.

It was an unfortunate mistake, but a mistake none the less.

The first interception has been debated all week. When it first happened it appeared to be a bad throw by Cutler. Then as the week went on the fan chatter was that Josh Morgan didn't do enough to break up the play, Morgan himself even said, "The cornerback was [playing] inside leverage, I should've done more to try and bat it down."

Maybe Morgan could have got a hand it the way, but I think Morgan was just being a good teammate by accepting some of the blame. Similar to how Cutler was trying to take some of the responsibility away from Marshall on the 2nd pick.

In my opinion this interception is all on Jay Cutler.

The Bears run a slant/arrow concept to the right side. Morgan runs the slant route and running back Matt Forte runs the arrow route. The slant/arrow combination is commonly used against man defense or cover three defense. Cutler saw a three deep look on his pre-snap read, so he thought he had the Packers exactly where he wanted them. The picture below is Jay's pre-snap look.


The highlighted player, #57 OLB Jamari Lattimore, is who Jay is reading after the ball is snapped. If he follows Forte on the arrow route, then the window to throw the slant should be there. Watch the GIF below to see Lattimore take Forte as he runs to the flat.

That opened the passing lane for Cutler to hit Morgan, but Jay didn't recognize Green Bay corner Tramon Williams was playing with inside technique. The inside technique isn't a dead giveaway that Williams is sitting on the slant, but it should sound an alarm with Cutler. Had Cutler read the play correctly, he would then work back to his left, where Brandon Marshall runs a stick route. It's a similar play that Marshall runs on the goal line.

On the play Marshall runs out 5 yards and turns around. If the defense is in zone or playing off he settles down, if the defense is manning him up he has the option of breaking whichever direction the defender isn't. On the play above the Packer is to the outside, so Marshall would want to slide across the field.

Hopefully next time the Cutler makes the right read and comes across to the other side of the field , but back to Morgan...

Do you notice how far outside the numbers Morgan is lining up? That leads Williams to believe that an inside breaking route in coming. Cutler and the Bears got the 3 deep look they were hoping for and Williams got the slant that he was hoping for.

The bottom line here is Williams made a good read and a better play, and Cutler didn't.

I don't see how Morgan could have prevented Williams from getting his hand on the ball. As soon as Morgan breaks he's looking at Cutler for the throw. I can almost guarantee you the next time the Bears play the Packers, they'll have the slanting receiver run a double move at some point.

Here are a couple options for the wide out, images taken from X's O's Football.


I've seen the whip route called a return or a pivot route in the past and it's great against man coverage. The sluggo is an old school west coast offense term for a slant and go. On both of these pass routes, the defensive back will read slant, then the receiver makes the second move.

The sheer size of wide outs Marshall and Alshon Jeffery makes them prime candidates to run the slant, but defenses know that. I would love to see the above two routes a bit more from the Bears. It's not only a great alternative route to run, but it'll keep defensive backs honest by making them think twice before jumping the slant.