Bears coach Marc Trestman says Jay Cutler's even temperament is part of the reason for his early success.
That includes passer ratings of 90-plus in three straight games for Cutler, the first time he has done that in the same season in four years.
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"He's been very patient," Trestman said. "And his consistent demeanor, more than anything, that's the one thing you're probably seeing now. He's handled success and adversity the same way throughout. There have been a couple of decisions I know he'd like to have back and some plays we'd like to have back.
"But overall not a lot of highs and lows with anything that's happened. Just hard work on and off the field. And consistent emotional levels during the course of a game to be able to handle the things that come up."
Cutler has been called "Mr. Fourth Quarter" by wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and he's living up to the nickname. His 108.2 passer rating in the final 15 minutes is seventh in the league, just a bit behind Detroit's Matthew Stafford, who's at 112.2.
Cutler also is third best in third-down passing, while Stafford is fifth at 123.5. In nine career starts against the Lions, Cutler has a passer rating of 100.2 with 12 touchdown passes and just 1 interception.
Trestman says Cutler has better mechanics, and that's an aspect of his game that frequently has been criticized, from throwing off his back foot, to not stepping into his throws, to not following through when he throws.
All of those mechanical flaws are much more prevalent when the quarterback is under attack, as Cutler was for much of his first four seasons in Chicago.
Now, according to Trestman, the longtime quarterbacks coach, Cutler "is probably carrying the ball a little bit higher now and finishing his throws."
Being able to follow through on his throwing motion is a lot easier with a clean pocket, which Cutler has had more often this season. That also might have something to do with his improved attitude.
"The No. 1 thing is what (offensive coordinator/offensive line coach) Aaron (Kromer) has done and (general manager) Phil (Emery) has done in getting our line together," Trestman said. "We've brought in some very good players.
"They're growing together. That can help stabilize a quarterback quite a bit, when he knows there are not people around his feet, and he can step up and throw. And not just complete a throwing motion, but finish his throw, so he can be more accurate."
Cutler and Trestman attribute his improved mechanics to game-speed repetitions with quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh and a better level of comfort in the pocket.
"We've definitely worked on it," Cutler said. "But I don't think you can have good mechanics unless you're taking less hits and you're feeling comfortable in the pocket and able to step up.
"I think if you ask any quarterback, it's hard to get hit early in a game and hit often and still be able to sit in there and have good mechanics. I think that's been kind of our emphasis the first three weeks, making sure we are clean in the pocket so that we can stay fundamentally sound with my mechanics."
That pocket security will be tested Sunday at Ford Field by a Lions front four that is one of the NFL's best and includes first-round picks Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley at the tackles and Ezekiel (Ziggy) Ansah at left end.
Ansah had 2 sacks and a forced fumble last week after the Lions lost former starter Jason Jones to a season-ending injury.
Ansah leads all rookies with 2½ sacks. Since Suh was drafted in 2010, he has 22 sacks, second among tackles only to Cincinnati's Geno Atkins, who has 24.
Cutler says his comfort level has increased each week, and he's confident his protection will continue to hold up.
"I feel good about the guys we have up front," he said. "They've got some really good players, (Suh) and Fairley both. The ends are playing well, too. We're going to have to be mindful of them, but I've got to do what I've got to do."
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