Jay Cutler won't avoid Darrelle Revis
LAKE FOREST -- One doesn't care, the other isn't paying attention.
... We're gonna have to find a way to complete balls [on Darrelle Revis' side], because you can't eliminate one side of the field. It's too hard to do. It gives them too much of an advantage.” -- Jay Cutler, on challenging the Jets' CB
So dissect Jay Cutler's game, rip it apart. The Chicago Bears quarterback, and his offensive coordinator Mike Martz, only care about the results, which in part, have allowed the Bears to clinch the NFC North championship and a spot in the playoffs with two games remaining on the schedule.
And now, as the Bears shift their focus toward to the next challenge -- the New York Jets -- Cutler said he won't let the presence of cornerback Darrelle Revis take away an entire side of the field. With no interceptions and just nine pass breakups on the season, Revis hasn't registered much in the way of statistics, because teams typically shy away from throwing the ball to his side.
The Bears have no such plans.
"No, you can't assume [the Bears will stay away from Revis' side]," Cutler said. "We've got good receivers. We trust the guys in our locker room. I tell those guys: 'You're gonna have to get open.' Whatever it takes, we're gonna have to find a way to complete balls [on Revis' side] because you can't eliminate one side of the field. It's too hard to do. It gives them too much of an advantage. So Johnny [Knox], and Devin [Hester], and all those guys, they're gonna have to find a way."
Cutler trusted his receivers to do that on Oct. 24 during an embarrassing home loss to the Washington Redskins. Not intimidated -- perhaps, understandably -- by the presence of DeAngelo Hall, Cutler unleashed a barrage of passes his way only to have the Redskins cornerback tie an NFL record with four interceptions. The performance resulted in Hall's jersey from the contest being sent to the Hall of Fame.
Martz said the key is to proceed with caution.
"It doesn't mean you don't do it, you just have to be careful on how you're gonna do it," Martz said. "[Revis is] very consistent, very, very, very confident in his skill, and does not overreact. He's really as good as I've seen in many years. But that doesn't mean that you don't create opportunities. It's a terrific challenge for our guys, there's no question."
In more than four seasons as a professional, Cutler has produced a 20-0 record as a starter when he finishes games with a passer rating of 100 or better. Cutler has registered five such games this season, and 11 since he joined the Bears.
Cutler and Atlanta's Matt Ryan are the only quarterbacks whose teams are undefeated when they generate a passer rating of 100 or better.
So why does Cutler -- who is regarded as possessing one of the league's strongest arms -- receive so much criticism? After throwing for three touchdowns, with a passer rating of 106.6 in the club's win Monday night over the Minnesota Vikings, Cutler still was skewered among critics for lapses in footwork, mechanics and decision making.
When asked Wednesday why he's such a lightning rod for criticism, Cutler shrugged.
"I don't know. I don't know," he said. "No [critic] knows what we're trying to get done with this offense. So no one knows my hot reads. No one knows my reads at all. No one knows what we're trying to do with the offensive line, what we're doing with the receivers.
"You guys don't have a clue. So it doesn't bother us; doesn't bother anybody in that locker room. We're gonna continue doing what we do. As long as we continue winning games, good things are gonna happen."
Cutler claims to be oblivious to the criticism. In fact, the quarterback said he's not bothered by all the scrutiny.
"I don't read it," Cutler said. "We talk about some of the hot topics before we come into these press conferences. But for the most part, I talk to Mike [Martz]. As long as Mike's good, I'm good."
Cutler has thrown eight touchdown passes and generated passer ratings of 100 or better in three of his last four outings. Still the quarterback hasn't been able to maintain that high level of production. Cutler hasn't yet put together more than three consecutive games with passer ratings of 100 or better throughout his career, and he's done that in three consecutive games only once.
At the same time, before now, Cutler had never taken a team to the playoffs, either.
"I think the consistency around him has improved. We're better in all areas," Martz explained. "As we get better, allows him to speed up [his progression] as well. Everybody has continued to make solid progress with what we do, and I think that has a lot to do with [how Cutler has performed lately]. The receivers are a lot more sure of themselves, and the protection is obviously [better]. That's helped him immensely."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.