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Chicago Bears Help added: Jay Cutler
has spent virtually every year of his career both questioned for his decision-making and lauded for his raw quarterbacking instincts and exceptional arm. He is, like a lot of ultra-talented QBs thrown into the mix early in their careers, somehow stuck in that "Gifted gunslinger" category. But Cutler has, particularly in Chicago, also suffered from a lack of good pass-catching options as well as a lack of blocking. You can look like a gunslinger when you're running for your life and trying to throw receivers open. His career INT rate -- basically the same as Eli Manning
's -- should continue to improve, and last year was at just 2.2 percent of throws.
Before he got hurt, he was on pace for his best season ever in terms of limiting mistake throws. But where he's really needed help in Chicago is with receivers who can go get the ball. I've seen Cutler throw the kind of back shoulder or "jump ball" passes to receivers with the idea they'll make a play on the ball, but guys like Devin Hester
aren't programmed that way. Instead, you see overthrows or INTs. With the addition of Brandon Marshall
(via trade) and Alshon Jeffery
(draft), the Bears have totally changed the dynamic at wide receiver. Cutler now has an interesting mix at wideout, with Marshall and Jeffery providing size and red zone matchup potential, and Hester and Earl Bennett
the speed to target good matchups. Bennett is decent in the slot, and my guess is they'll move Hester around.
The defense, solid if not spectacular for years, should return largely intact, though with the addition of a pair of draft picks who could work their way into the rotation. Shea McClellin
could give the Bears some pass-rush depth, but lacks the athleticism to explode on the scene. I think he'll be a solid but not flashy addition. Same goes for Brandon Hardin
, who could push to start early at strong safety. One guy to keep an eye on for down the line: fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez
is a tight end who can run, and this roster lacks much at the position, to put it mildly. Questions that remain:
It's at least up for debate, but it would be hard to find another team who was clearly worse than the Bears in pass protection last season. Injuries took their toll, but there were times when the pass blocking for Chicago would have been comical if not for the hits Cutler was taking. The good news for Chicago is the line gets to start over, with more health. Gabe Carimi
, last year's first-round pick out of Wisconsin, will be back, for starters. As well, I think Mike Tice will do more to protect the line. By that I mean he'll leave tight ends on the line to block, and have running backs help out. Cutler's ability to move in the pocket, get the ball out quickly and take hits was taken advantage of.
Elsewhere, the age of the Chicago defense is a constant discussion, but I'm not of the belief they're ready to take a step back. This team can compete with anybody if the health is there. Next year's help now: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State
I think he'll be a great fit in the Cover 2. He diagnoses well and is physical. The guy is fantastic and keeps the play in front of him.