Lions vs. Bears: Jay Cutler's Toughness Points to Continued Success in Chicago
How many quarterbacks would get up from this hit and jog off the field?
Not many, but Jay Cutler did. The same maligned, perpetually sulking signal-caller, who faces as much criticism as any, ran off the field after getting throttled by Ndamukong Suh at the end of the second quarter on Monday night against the Detroit Lions.
Cutler didn't have a great night statistically, going 16-for-31 for 150 yards and a touchdown, but he also didn't turn the ball over. Anyone and everyone knows that any game without a turnover is a success for Cutler and the Bears.
With Monday night's win, the Bears have won four in a row. Cutler has eight turnovers on the year (seven interceptions, one fumble), but he's noticeably better with Brandon Marshall stalking the perimeter. The comfort level between the two gives Cutler confidence, allowing him to settle into the pocket.
The Bears still have trouble protecting Cutler. Five sacks by the Lions Monday night showed how flawed the offensive line can be at times, but Matt Forte's healthy presence helps to alleviate some of that stress.
When he's full strength, Forte is one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL. He's a capable runner and receiver, and he's great at picking up the blitz when asked to do so.
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Cutler's critics question his moxie. He calls out his teammates, yells at his players and walks away from his coaches. He even left the 2011 NFC Championship Game with a knee sprain, a decision that didn't please some old-school football fans.
Watching Cutler jog off the field, miss a few plays and come back into the game Monday night symbolized something. Chicago is ready to win this year, and Cutler is completely on board, despite what some of his detractors may think about him.
Being a complete team is rare, but an efficient Cutler makes the Bears tough to beat. They run the ball well with Forte and Michael Bush, and Marshall gives their passing attack an element that they haven't had in years. Defensively, they are as strong as ever.
Don't expect Chicago to rip off a winning streak from now until the end of the season, but this team is playing with an edge. Smash-mouth football is what the Bears franchise was built on, and Cutler's perseverance Monday night shows that this team means serious business.
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