In the first quarter of the Bears most recent game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jay Cutler threw an interception on a play that looked ugly from the get-go. However, as always, there’s more than what meets the eye on this play. The point of this article is not to assign blame to Cutler or Marshall or anyone else, but rather to explain what each player may have been thinking during the play. Let’s get to the stills!
On this first shot, you’ll notice that the snap bounces a yard in front of Cutler. This does two things: It speeds up the Cutler’s “mental clock”, and prohibits a quick pass due to not having the ball in his hands immediately. The latter is important because Marshall’s running a slant route (a route that’s been extremely successful for him) on this play:
The offensive line did a pretty good job all day, but on this particular play, DT Jeremy Mincey (pink circle) got around his block and got immediate pressure on Cutler. Cutler has time for exactly one read on this play, and his first read of course was to Marshall.
As Cutler is letting the ball go, notice that Marshall has planted his left foot. Knowing there’s no one behind him, Marshall is presumably thinking that Cutler will anticipate him throwing towards the sideline, where Marshall can use his body position to make a still-difficult catch.
However Cutler doesn’t have the time to process that sort of play given the pressure in his face. He throws to where he expects Marshall to be, but Marshall is already out of position and makes a lunging attempt to break up the pass. He fails, of course, and Cutler throws his 3rd 1st Quarter INT of the season.
Now again, the point of this article is not to assign blame, but rather to educate. Marshall and Cutler were both in the wrong on this play, as were several other Bears players. These two are typically on the same page, and when they are, positive results generally follow. However this is the risk you run when you have a QB/WR combination so comfortable with each other that they feel they know what the other is thinking. Had Cutler had another second to diagnose what the defense was doing, perhaps he would’ve seen what Marshall wanted him to. The reality is we’ll never know, and considering the Bears won the game by 38, it really doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.
Here’s the play in full, compliments of Windy City Gridiron:
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