Jay Cutler has shown the ability in the past to bounce back from poor performances and not let one bad game turn into a slump.
Counting last week's 3-interception outing in a 40-32 defeat in which he also lost a fumble, Cutler has tossed 3 or more picks eight times. But he's never done it in back-to-back games. Only three times in his eight NFL seasons has he thrown 2 or more interceptions in back-to-back games.
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Part of rebounding from a bad game is mental, Cutler said, and it starts with facing your teammates when you come back to work Monday morning.
"Sometimes it's hard to walk back in that locker room and know that, 'Hey, I was responsible for 4 turnovers,' and you put your team in that position," Cutler said. "It makes you feel bad because I thought the defense played their butt off. The offensive line did a great job.
"It just brings everything into perspective of how important my job is of taking care of the ball and making sure that I put (us) in a position to win each week."
Cutler's teams are 6-1 the week after he throws 3 or more interceptions, and he has a passer rating of 87.5 in those bounce-back games, slightly better than his 84.0 mark in all games.
"If you can minimize those (turnovers), you're going to be in a better place, obviously," Cutler said. "Going into this week it's just, 'Take care of the ball.'
"We don't need to give the New Orleans Saints a better chance of scoring. They're already good enough on offense. Our defense is going to do everything possible to slow them down. Myself and the rest of the offense, we can't give them free opportunities."
The Saints are averaging 27 points per game, thanks in part to a plus-5 mark in turnovers. The Bears, who are also plus-5, are averaging 32 points per game, including 3 defensive touchdowns.
The trick for the Bears' offense is avoiding risky plays without losing the aggressiveness needed to make big plays. Playing too conservatively and not taking any chances can hinder an offense just as much as turnovers. So don't expect Cutler to completely abandon trying to fit tough throws into narrow openings.
"You've got to take calculated risks out there," said Cutler, who has 8 TD passes and 6 picks this year. "There are going to be times where we definitely want to push the ball up the field, and we're going to be making some tight throws.
"You want to do that stuff more vs. man-to-man, whenever you've got man-to-man. Against zone defenses, whenever guys are just kind of floating around on defense, those are the times you want to check it down and make sure that you manage the football."
First-year coach Marc Trestman hasn't been around to see how Cutler overcame meltdowns in the past, but he's confident his quarterback has the maturity and mental stability required. And, like a cornerback who gets beat deep for a touchdown pass, the ability to forget about it is key.
"It starts with going back to fundamentals and it's the mental preparation of just focusing on the game plan and executing the plays," Trestman said. "You've got to have the emotional stability. You've got to have amnesia, put the past behind you and play like it's the first game."
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