He's gone "FULL-CUTLER" folks. #Bears
— Laurence Holmes (@LaurenceWHolmes) September 29, 2013
And yet, it was totally warranted. After hearing up to this point how far Jay Cutler has come and how much he has matured/improved under the watch of head coach Marc Trestman, Sunday was a major step back in time.
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The Bears fell to the Detroit Lions, 40-32, as Cutler threw three interceptions (and had another one dropped) and was strip-sacked by smack-talking Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, resulting in a Nick Fairley defensive TD.
The Lions, and not the Bears, now find themselves in first place in the NFC North, as the Bears lost their first game of the season.
Cutler was the story. Three of his turnovers turned a 20-16 game into a 37-16 Lions edge into the third quarter. Although Cutler and the Bears cut into that lead down the stretch and had an onsides kick attempt in the final minute down only one score, the Lions recovered it and closed out the game.
This could be a flashpoint of the season for the Bears. These types of meltdown games from Cutler have been part of his DNA. But watching how he and Trestman respond will be the real key.
The problem was not just that Cutler was throwing interceptions — it was the way they were thrown: brazen, reckless plays where Cutler gambled on his arm stretch to compensate for staring down his intended targets. And on the strip-sack-score, one reason the ball might have come loose was because the ball was almost below his hip on the play, a stroke of poor mechanics, the exactly the kind of thing Cutler hadn't been doing with his new-and-improved form in the hot start.
Losing Sunday was not a brutal, un-fixable setback for the Bears. But if Cutler's regression is not a one-game fluke and it carries forth in the next three games — against the Saints, Giants and Redskins — the Bears easily could find themselves saddling the .500 mark at the bye despite starting 3-0.
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