Veteran quarterback Jay Cutler and rookie right guard Kyle Long aren't on the same page, but in this case that's a good thing.
"I thought I played terrible," Long said of last week's victory. "In looking at the film, I wish I could have had a lot of those snaps back. There are certain things I wish I could have done better."
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When told of Long's self-assessment, Cutler just smiled.
"Kyle doesn't know what kind of game he had," said Cutler, who was not sacked despite playing against an elite Cincinnati Bengals front seven. "He's doing a good job. I think his mistakes are magnified because those other four guys are doing a great job, and they don't make a lot of mistakes.
"So, whenever someone does it usually is him because he is so young, and he doesn't have as much experience. We're just trying to get him up to speed with the rest of those guys. If he keeps playing the way he's playing and getting better and better, we're not going to have any problems."
For now, Cutler doesn't have any problems with any of his offensive linemen, who kept him clean last week.
That gives him a level of confidence he rarely experienced while being sacked 148 times in the previous four seasons. Only Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (168) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (152) have been sacked more.
"Early in the game, especially against a front like (the Bengals'), there's a little bit of uncertainty about what's going to happen," Cutler said. "We had two (rookies) on the right side (right tackle Jordan Mills is the other), and four new guys in general.
"As we progressed through the game, I got more comfortable. (Coach) Marc (Trestman) got more comfortable calling plays and being able to trust them.
"I'm going to get more and more trust with them."
That trust will be tested again this week against a Minnesota Vikings defense that is expected to have Pro Bowl tackle Kevin Williams back from a knee injury to go with defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison.
Allen had 13 sacks last season and has 118 since 2004, the most in the NFL. Robison had 8½ sacks last season and also batted down 8 passes.
"They're both very good rushers," Trestman said. "Robison is just as athletic, maybe a little bit more. Not the experience (of Allen) but certainly a very good player.
"So we have to concentrate on both edges this week, and we will. We have to make sure that these two guys aren't the difference-makers in terms of the pass rush."
Having two-time Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod replacing J'Marcus Webb (now with the Vikings) should help the Bears' protection. But the former New Orleans Saint knows he will have a hard day's work.
"I've played (Allen) a few times, and it's no letdown every play," Bushrod said. "He's going hard to the ball every single play, so I have to be striking on all cylinders to get it done this week."
Like last week, it may take two quarters of safety-first football to build confidence that the line can protect the quarterback … but maybe not.
"We want to make sure we protect and we're able to get rid of the ball," Cutler said. "We don't want to take sacks. We want to keep the front five confident, keep myself confident and believing in those guys.
"But, at the same time, we've got to play football. We've got to take advantage of things the defenses are giving us.
"If that requires us taking a shot or getting five (receivers) out, that's what we've got to do."
At least one member of the O-line is ready to take a step forward.
"I can only get better," Long said. "I wasn't very happy with some of the things that I did, but I was very proud of the way my guys played."
Cutler was, too, and now the line needs to build off that success.
"By no means is it a finished product," said Aaron Kromer, offensive coordinator/offensive line coach. "There were some ups, and there were some downs. There are some things we can fix that we should fix easily, and we will. They worked on it this week, and we'll see where we go in this next game."
As long as Cutler stays clean, the offense could go a long way -- no pun intended.
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