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Six on 6 Week 1: Jay Cutler vs the Green Bay Packers

A new weekly where we look at how the guy playing quarterback performed: good, bad, or ugly. Specifically, six different items.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Six on 6, where we'll look at six points, good or bad, from Jay Cutler's game the previous week. It's the most important position on the field, he's the most polarizing player on the team in the league in the world. It makes sense that we'd look at his play.

Up front, as many longtime readers know, I like Jay Cutler enough. I know and understand his limitations. I don't expect him to field general like Peyton, and I don't expect him to stand in the pocket and carve defenses like Rodgers. I also don't expect him to have four Super Bowls* like Tom Brady.

Jay is at his core an average NFL quarterback with above average athletic ability and potential. He is also unlikely at this point in his career to ever fulfill that potential. This is not the worst thing that can happen. Fundamentally, Jay Cutler is a quarterback you can win with.  Yesterday Lester showed us not just how Jay stacks up against Green Bay (very badly), but how he stacks up against the rest of the league (pretty decent.)

That's Jay Cutler - pretty decent quarterback. You could be successful with him, but you have to be doing some other stuff correctly, too.

Let's get on with it.

The Interception

Because I know this is the first thing everyone points to:  "Same old Jay." But is it really?  Let's take a look at a couple snapshots. The first two shots will show you alignment of both teams presnap from both the sideline view and behind Jay's back. You can see him accurately identify and pointing out the blitz and the mike on this place.


The Bears have 3 receivers to the left, and the Packers are cheating that direction. Bennett is anchoring the right end of the offensive line, with Forte lined up to the right of Cutler in the backfield.  With the blitz identified, Cutler knows that Bennett should have a free release on that side, which is his hot route. But take a look at Clay Matthews in picture three, just before the ball goes.

Matthews may look like a doofus, but he's no slouch. He knows that with their defensive plan identified, a quick hit to Bennett is where Cutler's going to go, and he watches his eyes the whole time. It's hard to know whether this was a freelance on his part (as he does give up the spot where Wilson's curl terminates), but either way it's a hell of a play by a guy who knows how the game works.

So is it "same old Jay?" Yes and no. It's definitely a killer time to have that pick happen, but that pick happens by a savvy veteran back. Jay had the right idea, the execution was killer.  I hate him for actually throwing the pick and not seeing Matthews, but I at least understand why that was his target.

My bigger concern was the pressing need felt to be throwing on 1st down in a one score game with 4 minutes left, when you're at your opponent's 29 yard line. You've just picked up yards that drive on the ground, why the sudden move to throw? And if needed, perhaps a play action?

Cutler read option

The Bears used Cutler on a read play. I guarantee he scores a touchdown with this look at some point this season. That's all I really have to say about that.

The almost fumble

Here's a category I'm excited to add to the almost list: almost fumbles. Three individuals failed in my eyes on this play, 2 much more than the third. Tell me what your eyes say is wrong about this picture:

allmost fumble

Yes, Kyle Long got seriously abused by Julius Peppers, and Bushrod was unable to hold a stunt on the other end. That said, Jay should have had better awareness and stepped up, there wasn't much place for him to go, but sometimes turtling is an option. I'm not kidding though. The kid got abused. Just look:


The missed opportunity

In the second quarter, the Bears were driving. At Green Bay's nine, they lined up with three receivers right, and Alshon Jeffery, as show in the top image below:


As you can see in the bottom image, they shift Forte out inside of Jeffery, which causes linebacker Nate Palmer (Illinois State Redbirds represent!) to shift out to cover him.  You have to assume this was what Chicago wanted, a linebacker matched up with a strong pass catching back on the outside. This also has the advantage of leaving a rather large hole open over the middle.


Working off the assumption that the mismatch was their goal, Cutler takes the ball towards Forte in the endzone. The pass gets run out of bounds by Palmer, and they go to fourth down. But look at the top picture - Jeffery has all the room he could want to catch and make it the last 5 yards to the end zone.

It's a case where sometimes big eyes can be your downfall - the choice to work the mismatch kept him from seeing an easy play.  Now yes, they did end up scoring a touchdown on that drive but only because of a penalty on the kick. Awareness can be improved on, but again, I can't fault him for exploiting the matchup they seemed to want to get.

Kid has wheels

We saw again this week what we have seen in the past. Cutler is an interesting athletic quarterback. It goes back to the potential thing we were talking about before.  His ability to extend plays will be critical as this defense will still need a lot of help to get through the season.

4th down pass in Q4

The forth down incomplete pass was terrible all around. I'm actually kind of glad Cutler was able to do what he could with it without being massacred.

Tell us what you thought about Cutler, right or wrong, and remember - you can talk about his play and not being an apologist or a hater, just a fan who wants to talk about the game.

*I saw somewhere that I should apparently always put asterisks next to the Patriots Super Bowls.