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Cutler plays well, with some help from underachieving Eagles

by | National NFL Insider

Against a defense that doesn't sack or intercept him, Jay Cutler makes the throws that lead to victory. (AP)  
Against a defense that doesn't sack or intercept him, Jay Cutler makes the throws that lead to victory. (AP)  

PHILADELPHIA -- This was Good Jay. And when Good Jay is under control, those passes flaring out of the pocket like lightning bolts from Thor's hammer, then good Jay can ruin your day.

Bad Jay is really crappy. You don't want to make Bad Jay angry. You wouldn't like Bad Jay when he's angry. He'll steal your lunch money and crush your hopes. The Eagles saw instead saw the angelic one and Jay Cutler, with a bunch of suitable wide receivers and a terrible one in Roy Williams, put a Vulcan death grip on the Eagles' playoff chances.

It's not that Cutler threw for 400 yards and seven scores. Cutler threw for 208 yards and two. Aaron Rodgers averaged that before puberty. But Cutler was efficient. He was controlled. He was poised. He wasn't wild. His passes didn't sail into low orbit. Cutler fit some into tight windows when he needed, floated accurate bombs, and when his average receivers were beating the pants off Philadelphia defensive backs, it made Cutler's job that much easier.

There had to come a point where Jay Cutler thought to himself: this is it? This is the vaunted Eagles secondary? Really? No, really?

Not only did Cutler outplay the Eagles defense -- with a little help from Matt Forte, of course (133 yards on 24 carries) -- Cutler also outplayed Michael Vick. (OK, a lot of help from Forte.)

The Bears' victory was so important, it even caught the attention of some outside of the NFL. Tweeted Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade after the game: "Big S/O to my BEARS on a great road win..@JayCutler6 way to lead homie"

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"We can do whatever we want," Cutler said, when asked about the offense's potential when he has time to throw. "We can throw downfield, we can throw quick, we can roll it out. It's an array of things that we have in this offense, and when that front five is comfortable and they're picking things up, and the pocket's clean, it's going to be hard to stop us."

Cutler was giddy because he wasn't sacked. That has happened only twice in his 39 regular-season games as a Bear. He has been a human punching bag.

This is the type of game where you would expect Bad Jay to make a guest starring appearance. The Eagles (3-5) looked poised to make a run after beating the stirrups off the Cowboys in their previous game. It looked like many of their issues were fixed.

What was not repaired was an important thing: the Eagles' secondary, their supposed strong point, particularly after signing supposed rock star Nnamdi Asomugha, is still getting torched. Right now, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie couldn't cover a Basset Hound stuck in a tar pit. When Williams -- Roy Freaking Williams, of all people -- is getting wide open all across the field, you know a secondary is struggling.

This is not how it was supposed to be for Philadelphia, but this is the way it is. There are currently nine teams ahead of the Eagles in the playoff hunt, most of which have a two-game cushion games on Philadelphia. Can the Giants or any of these other teams stumble? Sure. The larger issue, however, remain the Eagles themselves. Even if the pack falls back to them, the Eagles have to, you know, win.

This is the cold harshness of it all. For Philadelphia to have a chance at the playoffs, the team would need to likely win -- at least -- six of its last eight games. Vick compared the playoff push to a chess game.

"Got to keep pushing the pawns," he said. "Keep pushing the pawns, man. Push the pawns and use all the weapons that you have to stay aggressive and stay on the attack. It's never out of reach when you have your queen on the board, and that's Andy Reid."

This is when you knew Cutler wasn't going to blow it. Once, feeling pressure from his blind side, Cutler pulled off a pretty spin move, sidestepped the pressure, and threw a completion downfield. Right guard Lance Louis was impressed and shook Cutler's hand.

Cutler laughed. Yep, Good Jay was back.

And he might have just destroyed the Eagles.


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