Cutler thus far has completed a career-best 65.9 percent of his passes and is on pace to throw for 32 touchdowns (which would be a career high) and 4,346 yards.
In addition to a new philosophy and schemes introduced by new head coach Marc Trestman, Bears management this offseason made an effort to improve Cutler’s supporting cast, signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod, guard Matt Slauson and tight end Martellus Bennett. The team also drafted Kyle Long in the first round and has started him at right guard all six games.
Brandon Marshall remains the team’s top receiving threat, but Bennett and Alshon Jeffery have proven themselves as reliable receivers as well. Marshall leads the team with 40 catches for 465 yards and five touchdowns while Jeffery has added 29 receptions for 456 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett has added another 31 catches for 349 yards and three touchdowns.
The added resources have played a significant factor in Cutler’s improvement so far, Trestman said. But much of the improvement has come from work Cutler has done on his own.
“I don’t know that I’ve done anything. You know, [general manager] Phil Emery brought in Bushrod, Slauson and Martellus Bennett, and drafted two young players that have started on the right side for us since the start of the season,” Trestman said. “So I don’t know that I’ve done anything substantial. Jay has been very proactive in his pursuit to become a better quarterback. I think Jay, with the help of [quarterback coach] Matt Cavanaugh and [offensive coordinator/offensive line coach] Aaron Kromer and the guys, they’ve done a good job of creating an environment for him to be a better player and Jay’s done what he can do on his own individually.”
Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said that much of Cutler’s improvement this season stems from his comfort with the scheme, which is designed to get the ball out of his hands quickly.
“It’s a quick-passing game and he’s getting the ball out of his hands,” Haslett said. “He’s got a [65.9]-percent completion [percentage]. I’m impressed with the way he’s throwing it and I’m impressed with the way he’s running it. He’s running the ball more. And he’s got some great weapons. Big, tall receivers that are really good football players, one of the best receivers in the league, heck of a running back.”
Haslett said the key to the Redskins’ success in dealing with that quick-passing attack initially will be stopping the run so the Bears are in second- and third-and-long situations, which will be less manageable for Cutler and his offense.
In his last regular season meeting with the Redskins – in 2010 – he threw four interceptions, all to DeAngelo Hall. The Redskins – including Mike Shanahan, who drafted and coached Cutler in Denver – don’t believe that game remains prominent in Cutler’s mind, however, and believe they can’t rely on the past at all.
“Jay is one that can wipe things out just like that,” Shanahan said. “He doesn’t have a long memory. He’s very competitive. He’s going to give it everything he’s got, but after something’s over, he can concentrate very quickly on the next game. He always wants to play well. I know there’s a couple of words here and there said [between Hall and Cutler in the past], that’s football – competitors after a game.”
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.
● The Redskins practice Thursday at 1 p.m. Both coordinators are scheduled to speak with reporters.
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