Film Study: Jay Cutler (right thumb) looked limited vs. Eagles

Thoughts and observations after watching the film of the Bears’ 29-14 loss against the Eagles in Week 2.

Rule of thumb

Quarterback Jay Cutler is day-to-day with a sprained right thumb, and according to team sources, his ligament damage dates back to the opener against the Texans.

One source said the injury normally costs a player a three to four week absence. It was aggravated early against the Eagles.

Bears QB Jay Cutler vs. the Eagles. (AP)

Bears QB Jay Cutler vs. the Eagles. (AP)

Coach John Fox said Cutler “practiced every play of practice” and that the offensive game plan for the Eagles wasn’t altered by Cutler’s thumb.

“None whatsoever, because it wasn’t a factor,” Fox said.

But it definitely appeared to be against the Eagles. Cutler didn’t look like the strong-armed gunslinger that he usually is.

Only two of Cutler’s passes went downfield: his 49-yard jump ball to Alshon Jeffery, who sprang himself free with a stutter step and a 22-yarder over the middle to Jeffery after a play fake.

The majority of Cutler’s throws were short and quick. Six of Cutler’s 12 completions were made near the line of scrimmage or behind it. Cutler’s four other completions were gains of 12, three, nine and five yards.

All three of Eddie Royal’s receptions from Cutler were made behind the line of scrimmage. Royal turned them into 46 yards, including a 31-yard gain on a receiver screen.

Cutler also was noticeably short on three incompletions. It included Cutler’s second pass, when he scrambled forward and threw a pass that fell yards short of receiver Kevin White. It also appeared to be tipped by a defender.

Later in the first quarter, Cutler underthrew Royal in the right flat on a play from the Eagles’ 13-yard line. It was nearly intercepted by cornerback Ron Brooks.

In the third quarter, the Bears evidently concluded that Cutler’s right thumb was an issue, but he played on.

On the Bears’ possession following the one that concluded with the sack and strip of Cutler, the Bears ran seven consecutive times, including five times from the shotgun.

When Cutler needed to pass on third-and-six, he short-hopped his attempt to tight end Zach Miller, despite having good protection.

Cutler said afterward that he initially felt pain in his thumb “early on in the game.”

“I couldn’t really grip the ball,” Cutler said. “That was obviously a big issue for me.”

Cutler’s injury played into his interception, too. Cutler’s throw to Jeffery lacked its typical velocity, allowing linebacker Nigel Bradham to make an easy play.

“I couldn’t get as much on it as I wanted to,” Cutler said.

Protection issues

For the second consecutive week, the Bears failed to protect Cutler, and against the Eagles, the woes happened at meaningful moments.

It included sacks on the second play from scrimmage, a first-down play in the second quarter and the fourth play of their first possession in the second half.

The Eagles’ three sacks were the result of individual breakdowns:

* Tight end Logan Paulsen failed to identify safety Malcolm Jenkins as a blitzer, which allowed Jenkins to have a free run at Cutler on the second play.

* Right tackle Bobby Massie’s struggles continued. In the second quarter, defensive end Brandon Graham beat Massie with speed and a rip move from the outside to sack Cutler, who had stepped up in the pocket.

* Right guard Kyle Long was responsible for defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao’s sack and strip of Cutler in the third quarter.

With a swim move, Vaeao forced Long to the turf, giving him a free run at Cutler, who moved up in the pocket and looked to scramble.

Focusing on Floyd

Rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd rushed primarily from the left side and was no match for Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson.

Floyd tried a variety of moves to no avail. Even good moments were tough ones for Floyd, who didn’t record one quarterback hit in 51 snaps.

When Willie Young sacked quarterback Carson Wentz early in third quarter, Johnson reversed Floyd’s bull-rush and drove him into the ground.

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