In NFL circles, there is currently considerable buzz about the Chicago Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler.
In eight starts this season, Cutler has thrown just five interceptions. That's an average of 0.62 interceptions per game, which is the best ratio of his career.
Here are Cutler's per-game interception totals since becoming a full-time starter in 2007.
|YEAR||INTs Per Game|
Signs of Cutler's growth began showing during the Week 4 contest against the Oakland Raiders. Coming off a groin injury and nowhere near 100 percent, Cutler threw for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns, and led the Bears on a fourth-quarter game-winning drive - his first of three this year.
Since regaining relative full health in Week 5, Cutler has played at argubly the highest level of his career in Chicago. Over the past five contests, he's thrown 9 TDs compared to just two interceptions. He hasn't had a five-game stretch with just two interceptions since Weeks 4-8 in 2012.
The Bears have won two in a row and four out of their last six, with those two losses by a combined six points, due in large part to Cutler's improved decision making.
Yet it goes deeper than that, as he's saved his best for when the pressure has been its heaviest.
According to Pro Football Focus, Cutler has been pressured on 78 of 195 dropbacks since Week 5. His 40.0 pressure percentage is sixth highest in the league during that time frame, yet he's been sacked just 9.0 percent of those pressured plays, which is 3rd best in the NFL.
That's tangible proof of what we've seen on game days the past month-plus: Cutler's heightened pocket presence as at an all-time high. He's feeling the rush, avoiding the rush, extending plays with his legs and making accurate throws with defenders collapsing the pocket.
Since Week 5, he's thrown 5 TDs and 0 INTs under pressure, while his 56.5 completion percentage on pressured plays is 7th best in the league - 19 spots higher than Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
In the past, when Cutler got "happy feet" in the pocket, turnovers were imminent. Yet under coordinator Adam Gase and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains, Cutler is excelling when defenses apply pressure, which is the sign of a quarterback who may be on the verge of finally reaching his immense potential.