Mike North: Cutler needs signature game

The Bears host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, and I'm still waiting for that signature game from highly criticized quarterback Jay Cutler.

The Bears have some excellent skill-position players on offense, and with the Cowboys going into December in the hunt for a playoff berth, a victory in prime time would be a feather in the cap of the blue and orange.

But with coach Marc Trestman calling sideline screens and keeping the offense restrained, it makes me wonder whether former Bears offensive coordinators Gary Crowton or Terry Shea have invaded Trestman's brain.

While the Cowboys rank 22nd in defense overall and reside in the bottom half of the NFL, there is a problem. The Bears are ranked even lower at 26th, so the more their offense is off the field, the more exposed the Bears' defense is. Of course, the same goes for the Cowboys.

Cutler, who sits mostly alone on the sideline - or at least that's what the cameras often show - has to get more involved. Sometimes it seems as if the players have quit on their quarterback and coaching staff.

The normally accomplished Brandon Marshall has played like an average slot receiver lately, and for whatever reason they don't want to hand off the football to running back Matt Forte.

So how about this plan? Let Cutler call his own game.

While I'm not sure if Cutler is capable, maybe Trestman should put the computer tablet down and try something new.

How about a shootout, with two tier-B quarterbacks Cutler and Tony Romo just airing it out?

If the Houston Texans' Ryan Fitzpatrick can throw 6 touchdowns, how about Cutler giving Bears fans something to be happy about with some high-powered scoring?

Will it happen? I doubt it, but why not give it a try? After all, Dallas is in the same boat as the Bears: pretenders!

A star is born:

Jimmy Butler has come bursting out of the gate with some real star power for the Bulls.

Butler started Sunday's game against the Brooklyn Nets and had 26 points, 5 assists, 1 steal and 4 rebounds.

Jimmy Buckets, as Bulls announcer Stacy King has coined him, is making the Marquette faithful proud with his stats: 21.6 ppg, 82 percent free-throw shooting and almost 50 percent field-goal shooting.

Butler's presence has been invaluable, and while Derrick Rose played only 26 minutes against the Nets, Butler stayed on the court for 39 minutes.

Butler's vast improvement offensively has been a surprise to many, and coach Tom Thibodeau has to be pleased with his hustle.

I'm giving Butler a little love because nationally he's not a household name - maybe not even locally yet.

So here's to the early-season MVP of the Bulls. Oh, and if he keeps playing like he has, everyone will know his name very soon.

Program notes:

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• North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at For more, visit

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