An injury cut Cutler's seventh game short, and he found it difficult to get back to 100 percent at any point over the remainder of the season before finally giving way to Josh McCown. However, back to full strength for the start of 2014, Cutler is a prime candidate to match his first-six-game averages from last season in Week 1 against the Bills.
The Bills still maintain an excellent stable of pass rushers, but the back seven has lost players to injury and free agency, and the team will try to restock from within. Linebackers Kiko Alonso (out for year) and Nigel Bradham (suspended for Week 1) won't play Sunday, and safety projects to be an area of concern after Jairus Byrd left in free agency. Cutler should find plenty of room in the middle of the field all day. Expect plenty of first downs as the Bears QB piles up 300-plus yards and multiple TDs in Week 1.
Cutler was held out of the end zone and his last pass of the night resulted in an interception by Jeremy Lane late in the second quarter. He was sacked twice and compiled 157 yards through the air while completing 12 of 20 passes. He finished the game with a 64.0 passer rating.
The Bears offense didn't see a lot of action early, as turnovers limited them to just three plays most of the way through the first quarter. That allowed Cutler to remain in the game into the second quarter. On the team's third possession, Cutler was able to lead a 10-play drive, leading to a touchdown. The Bears offensive line gave Cutler a ton of time all night. He finished 7 for 9, for 75 yards. One of Cutler's incompletions was a drop by Brandon Marshall, so his night could have been even better.
"He’s getting better," Trestman said. "He understands what we’re doing. The dialogue is fast. We understand what we need to get done. Our communication is very, very good. It’s a blast to work with him on and off the field."
Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer offered more detail on Cutler's improvement.
"Jay has learned to solve his own problems on the field," Kromer said. "He’s much quicker this year with his reads. He knew them last year — don’t get me wrong — but it’s happening even faster for him.
"He’s understanding everything he’s seeing. He’s seeing the defensive line. He’s making the calls of who we want to Mike [identifying the middle linebacker]. He’s directing everything and then getting us in the correct call if we give him more than one play. It’s just happening at a faster pace, and that’s going to help our offense."
Cutler played two series of offense and on his final series, he led his team to a 13-play, 69-yard drive, which resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller in the first quarter. He completed 9 of 13 pass attempts for 85 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions, finishing with a 112.7 passer rating.
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