Jay Cutler + Red Zone = Disaster

When Chicago acquired Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos this offseason, it was all Bear fans could do from booking their plane tickets to Miami. They figured that since they finally had a franchise quarterback under center and that the offensive line had improved, there’s no way Da Bears wouldn’t challenge for a Super Bowl berth.

Then the games actually started and now they’re starting to realize that there’s a reason why the Broncos never got to the playoffs with Cutler as their quarterback.

Cutler threw a mind-boggling five interceptions in the Bears’ 10-6 loss to the 49ers on Thursday night. Not all of those picks were his fault, as Devin Hester fell down on one pass, the ref got in the way on another and San Francisco safety Mark Roman may have gotten away with interference on yet another.

But that doesn’t excuse Cutler for throwing two horrendous interceptions in the red zone – an area in which he continues to struggle this season – to kill drives. It’s almost like whenever Chicago reaches that spot of the field, Cutler breaks out into a cold sweat and forgets how to play. He’s so deathly afraid of the red zone that Lovie Smith might as well trot kicker Robbie Gould onto the field and take three points because there’s a good chance Cutler is going to throw a pick.

Cutler is a good quarterback with all the physical tools needed to succeed in the NFL. But he’s getting zero help from his running game and Ron Turner’s play calling is questionable at best. (Why the hell didn’t Turner call more screen passes to Matt Forte after the Niners showed repeatedly that they couldn’t defense it?)

That said, Cutler has to be better in the red zone. It’s the area of the field where Tom Brady has made a living and where Peyton Manning drives a stake through the heart of his opponents. I’m not comparing Cutler to Brady or Manning, I’m just stating the obvious: Quarterbacks that win know how to convert in the red zone.

As for the 49ers, their defense played a solid game but Cutler also handed out gifts like he was Jolly Saint Nick on Christmas Eve. The offensive line never gave Alex Smith time to throw either, and without Frank Gore the Bears win this game 6-3.

Either way, both of these teams are brutal. They’re not Lions, Browns, Chiefs, Raiders or Bucs brutal, but they’re about as brutal as two 4-5 teams can be.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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