Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
I know that Jay Cutler has played better this season, but I was wondering if you think he is a lock to return as the Bears starting quarterback next year.
I would be very surprised if Jay Cutler does not return as Bears quarterback next season. I feel that he's done an excellent job of operating the offense this year, especially with a rash of injuries at the wide receiver position that has led to little or no continuity in the passing game. Entering the season, I felt the most important thing for Cutler to do was to reduce his interceptions, and he's done just that from 18 last year to just seven this season with three games remaining. Cutler's 92.2 passer rating and 1.8 interception percentage are on pace to be the best of his 10-year NFL career. I also believe that he doesn't receive enough credit for his ability to avoid the rush in the pocket and extend plays with his feet. He's continued to do a great job in that aspect of the game throughout the season.
The Bears are 5-8 right now just like they were at this point last season. How much progress have they really made under the new coaching staff?
Despite their record being the same, the Bears have made tremendous strides over the last year. Last season they were routinely getting blown out and embarrassed (not to mention dealing with numerous off-the-field distractions, while this year they've been in virtually every game with their last five losses coming by margins of 3, 3, 2, 6 and 3 points. Don't get me wrong—it's been very frustrating and disappointing to lose so many close games. But like I said, the Bears have made huge strides since last year in terms of competitiveness—and they know they must make even more to turn some of those narrow losses into wins.
It seems like the Bears always struggle late in the season. When was the last time they won a game in the month of December?
The Bears have lost eight straight games in December dating back to a 38-31 win over the Browns in Cleveland on Dec. 15, 2013. They've since lost to the Eagles and Packers in 2013, the Cowboys, Saints, Lions and Vikings in 2014, and the 49ers and Redskins this year.