Imrem: Cutler efficient enough to get job done
Jay Cutler earned the designation of winning pitcher Monday night.
The Bears' quarterback wasn't spectacular or the gunslinger that he's reputed to be.
Instead Cutler was good enough and especially efficient enough to direct the Bears to a 27-19 victory over the Jets in MetLife Stadium.
"He did a good job of leading our football team," Bears head coach Marc Trestman said.
The Bears overall let the Jets beat themselves with mistakes early, and Cutler let counterpart Geno Smith win the stats battle but lose the game.
This was the second straight gutsy victory for the Bears as they were playing with rookies and practice-squad players after injuries ravaged the defensive secondary.
Cutler always has had the physical attributes -- size, arm strength, mobility -- to be a winning NFL quarterback.
All were on display against the Jets. Cutler gunned passes into the gut of his receivers. He scrambled for 16 yards. He slipped out of the grasp of potential sacks.
"There were a number of plays," Trestman said, "where Jay had to move around and make plays."
OK, yes, we have seen all of that before from Cutler and even in a larger supply.
Then we have seen the flip side of this player who never has been able to consistently be all that he can and should be.
Look, Jay Cutler is in his ninth NFL season and never has reached the status of elite quarterback, and maybe he won't have an elite career by the time it's over.
But what someone with Cutler's natural ability can do is have an elite season.
If it's this year, the Bears can go a long way. They can win the NFC North and maybe make a playoff run and after that who knows what?
This is no news bulletin: The Bears' aspirations depend on Cutler staying healthy and playing well on most weeks.
Cutler's professional-quality performance against the Jets was his second straight, both on the road, which is why the Bears' record is 2-1. Most impressive again was Cutler's composure when things weren't going great for the Bears.
After falling behind 14-0, the Jets rallied to within 17-13 at halftime. That's when Cutler pulled everything back together.
The Bears began the second half with a touchdown drive on which Cutler completed all 5 of his passes.
"(The Jets) had momentum going into halftime," Cutler said. "We had to put something together and set the tone for the second half."
The most encouraging aspect came after a penalty nullified a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. Cutler came right back with a TD pass to Martellus Bennett.
The Bears won this game for two reasons: first, Jets turnovers led to the Bears' first 14 points; second, Cutler didn't match the Jets' mistakes.
The offense was competing against the Jets' formidable front seven on defense, which forced Cutler's well-being inside and outside the pocket.
"I thought he took more hits in this game than he had," Trestman said. "He stayed in there and played tough, as he always does."
Cutler was fortunate that the Jets dropped at least 3 potential interceptions, but the fact is he finished with 2 TDs and zero INTs. In contrast, New York's Geno Smith threw for more yards 316-225 but had 2 interceptions.
Cutler did catch a break when his fumble was returned for a touchdown but the whistle blew the ball back to where the Jets recovered.
If Cutler can string together a series of this kind of game and utilize all the weapons that surround him on the offense, the Bears will have a chance to beat anybody.
Meanwhile, as the season advances the offense can provide the defense with the opportunity and time to get to know each other, get healthy and get better.
The Bears are in position to have a positive season. If they beat the Packers next week, wow, expectations will soar.
If Jay Cutler keeps playing well, the Bears just might fulfill those expectations.