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Six on 6 Week 10: Jay Cutler vs. the St. Louis Rams breakdown and more

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A little bit different this week, as we'll look at each of Jay's incomplete passes. (There weren't that many.)

Hey, sorry you're going to get benched, man. Should ball like me next time.
Hey, sorry you're going to get benched, man. Should ball like me next time.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Cutler had a heck of a game last week.

  • 19/24 passing
  • 79.2 completion percentage
  • 258 yards
  • 3 TDS
  • 151.0  Rating

Where have you been all my life, this Jay Cutler?  Some pretty good stats. Since there really aren't any negative plays (yeah, there's sacks, but, they were the kind of sack where you take the sack and move on), I thought we'd take a look at the season stats/career stats, as always, and then look at the decisions made on each of his 5 incomplete passes.  (1+5 = 6).  I'm not counting the incomplete that was negated by the roughing the passer call. Because for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist.

Season Stats, continued

Jay Cutler Metrics 2015 Career
sixon6
Completion Percentage 64.2 61.9
Touchdown % 4.8 4.7
Interception % 1.8 3.3
Sack % 4.2 6.1
Net Yards/Attempt 7.03 6.37
Passer Rating 95.3 85.8

I got a little guff in the comments last week for saying that Jay Cutler was having kind of a career year. I still maintain that position. I gave the caveat that it's not in TDs, or yards, necessarily, but if you extrapolate, he's roughly on pace to have about 24TDs, 9-10 INTS, and 3800 yards this season, among his best in each of those categories, as well.

That's not to say that  a career year for Jay Cutler is some kind of record-setting year in regards to the league. However, the eye test, and the stats above, show that he is working to limit mistakes and be productive.

And that's always been the knock on Cutler, hasn't it? He turns the ball over too much. He trusts his arm too much. He holds the ball too much. He makes bad choices.  These are all things we've all (self included) said about Jay Cutler, and it's time to give him credit where it's due.

He's clearly the MVP of this team. This is maybe a one-win team if Jimmy Clausen was starting. And I'm being overly generous.

Incomplete #1

Game Situation: 1st Quarter, 1:12 remaining. 3rd and 2, CHJI 42 
Score: 7-10, Rams

Target: Jeremy Langford

So this one is just an "eh" incomplete pass, really. Most targets are covered pretty well, and the ball is thrown to where Langford will either catch it, or it will sail by people.  Needing only two yards, Jay only ever looks for the safe short pass, which is a smart move. However, he's pretty locked in on the right side of the field - with no effort to look left at all, the defense can keep their blanket going. But look at this screenshot, from when Jay hits the end of his backpedal:

inc1

Because Jay is locked in on the right side of the field (this is before Langford's made his break, the pass target is closer to the numbers) Bennett, who is circled in red, can be seen getting inside of his man over the middle. Bennett is past the sticks and has room to move - the other safety is 20 yards off the line of scrimmage at this point.  IMO, the better option would have been one more look over the middle, see Bennett, make completion, move forward. Ultimately, two plays after this, the Rams would fumble that leads to a FG. No harm, no foul.

Incomplete #2

Game Situation: 1st Quarter, :19 remaining, 2nd and 8, STL 17
Score: 7-10, Rams

Target: Alshon Jeffery

On this one, it seems clear that the ultimate goal is to try and get the Alshon Jeffery jump ball going. After the shotgun snap, here's a look at where Cutler's eyes have scanned as he hits the back of his drop, all left side, with the ultimate area of the target circled in blue:

inc2-1

I don't fundamentally have a problem with the call in the situation - however, the jump was badly timed by Jeffery and the throw was slightly behind, which put the cornerback in a great place to make a play on the ball. Luckily he didn't.

But...take a look at this snap from a split second later, right as Cutler is unloading the ball down the sideline to Jeffery:

inc2-2

Circled in red are Langford (at the 18) and Miller (at the 13)  Miller is particularly ready for the catch, and a look his way would have seen a reasonably easy pitch and catch that would have, at minimum, set the Bears up for a 3rd and 4 or so. Jay takes a big hit on this throw, but part of that is the extra time to load up the 26 yard (through the air) toss - that pressure may have been a factor on why the ball was a little short of Jeffery's location.

Like I said - I don't have a problem with the playcall, but the execution could have been better. In the situation, I'd rather see the short pass with the higher percentage of success to really make the defense pay.

Incomplete #3

Game Situation: 1st Quarter, :12 remaining, 3rd & 8, STL 17
Score: 7-10, Rams

Target: Marquess Wilson

This one's just bad, really. Pocket breaks down, Jay steps up through it, has a lot of space in front of him, throws a pass that's probably over the line of scrimmage, and it goes incomplete to a covered Wilson in the endzone.

Now this, I have some problems with. Let's take a look at this snap from right before his little NFL-Blitz style jump throw:

inc3

Jay probably could've run, but he opted for the pass. Ok, except, as I said, he's probably going to get it called back for an illegal forward pass.  But look at Bennett, circled in red.  HE JUST STANDS THERE.

Nothing to help his quarterback out, as he watches him scramble, he doesn't try to get further downfield. He doesn't try to get ready to try and block his guy, or even draw him back to the center of the field to open the outside up for Cutler. He just stands there. Seriously.

The play is broken, the call for Cutler should probably have been to run up, shave a few yards off, and make the FG easier. They score it anyways, but these back to back incompletions don't punish the Rams for their fumble nearly as much as they should.

The whole second quarter happens

Seriously. The only incomplete pass is negated by a roughing the passer call. WIthout the roughing the passing call, it would've been negated by a defensive holding call.  THIS GUY IS UNSTOPPABLE.

Incomplete #4

Game Situation: 3rd Quarter, 13:44 remaining, 3rd & 10, CHI 20
Score: 24-10, Bears

Target: Jeremy Langford

A simple miscommunication. Not looking to jeopardize a 2 score lead at the beginning of the 2nd half, Cutler gets the ball out of his hands to a Langford who never looks.  Seriously, the four-man pass rush of the Rams would've murdered him if he held it any longer.  A good throwaway to ensure the opportunity to punt and try to preserve the lead. No worries here.

Incomplete #5

Game Situation: 4th Quarter, 12:14 remaining, 2nd&10, STL23
Score: 24-13, Bears

Target: Marquess Wilson

Near the Rams Redzone, after having moved the ball about 60 yards, the Bears get stuffed on 1st and 10. On 2nd, down, a long developing route to Wilson is slightly underthrown, allowing the defensive back to make a heck of a play on the ball to knock it away. Here's from when Jay's unloading the ball:

inc5macro

Everyone's well covered.  The idea is solid, try and throw the ball where Wilson or no one would make a play, but the throw's not quite on point, so this happens:

inc5zoom

The hand around the waist is disconcerting, but live action doesn't look as bad as this still. Well played.

Summary

Even the "bad" this week wasn't too bad at all. It all leads back to coaching, development, and comfort. This group is playing well right now, none more so than their leader. Without the poor special teams play these past few weeks, Cutler's got the offense working at a playoff caliber right now. It's a unit that can hopefully continue to build, and I think it'd take a pretty epic collapse over the last 7 games to keep Cutler from returning in 2016.