Kevin White can’t connect with Jay Cutler in tough Bears loss
HOUSTON — Receiver Kevin White wants to watch the film. He said so about a dozen times when asked to explain the miscue that led to Jay Cutler’s interception.
Well, here’s what he’ll see when he looks at the second-and-five play from the Bears’ 22 early in the third quarter:
* Cutler had decent protection after a play-action fake, even though Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork was barreling into his face.
* White had a free release off the line and settled his route between the hashes and numbers after 16 yards.
* Texans safety Andre Hal moved underneath White’s route, while cornerback Johnathan Joseph dropped deep.
* With White stopped, Hal followed Cutler’s throw, which went outside the numbers, to make an impressive diving interception.
* And to top it all off, the Fox broadcast captured Cutler signaling toward the sideline, indicating a clear mistake by White.
“I’m not sure,” White said after the Texans’ 23-14 victory Sunday at NRG Stadium. “We just got to go back and watch film. [It’s] not being on the same page. We’ll figure it out and correct it for next week.”
It was a disappointing debut for White, the No. 7 selection from the 2015 draft who missed all of his rookie season after shin surgery. He said he wasn’t limited by the hamstring injury that reduced his participation in practices last week. But White certainly looked limited in the offense.
Afterward, Cutler did his best to deflect scrutiny away from White, saying he wanted responsibility for the interception because it left his hand. He did loft the throw into coverage.
But Cutler’s decisions after it were more telling. He didn’t target White until the last two minutes when the game was out of reach and the Texans’ pass rushers were foaming at the mouth.
White had one catch for five yards before making two grabs for 29 yards in those final minutes.
“We lost — that’s how I rate [my debut],” White said. “We’ll get back into the playbook and film, correct it and move on.”
The interception embodied what went wrong for the Bears in the second half. It abruptly ended the momentum they had gained after closing out the first half with a 54-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery and a 19-yard laser from Cutler to Eddie Royal for a score.
The Bears’ offense simply wasn’t the same after Cutler’s interception. The protection broke down, Jeffery dropped a sure first down and Cutler went from a 141.8 passer rating in the first half to finishing with a 76.2 mark.
Texans receiver Will Fuller’s strong debut accentuated the struggles of White and Cutler.
Fuller, the former Notre Dame star drafted with the 21st overall pick, made up for an awful drop late in the second quarter with four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
“I didn’t keep my head down,” said Fuller, who had one catch for seven yards in the first half.
Fuller beat the Bears the way they envision White beating opponents — with speed, quickness and athleticism.
Fuller looked fast and elusive, scoring on a screen from 18 yards out in the fourth quarter. His diving 35-yard catch down the sideline with cornerback Deiondre’ Hall in tight coverage was even better.
It’s apparent that Fuller has a role in the Texans’ offense, but what about White in the Bears’? Does Cutler trust him?
“I wouldn’t say it’s not happening after one game,” Cutler said.
Cutler knows he needs to be patient with White. He is a “rookie.” Mistakes will happen. It’s a balancing act for a team that wants to win with young players.
But for a receiver who has worked hard on expanding his route-running since college, White’s gaffe was disconcerting.
It played a role in a real loss.
“We need him, and he’s going to be fine,” Cutler said. “We’re not worried about him.”