Remain Calm, All is Well

Although Chad Hutchinson's first start in relief of Rex Grossman did not inspire confidence, the Bears believe there is enough time to correct the miscues before the start of the season.

He was intercepted twice in the first quarter and sacked a total of three times in a little less than one half. He fumbled on one of the sacks, but right guard Terrence Metcalf recovered the ball. Hutchinson completed 5 of 8 passes for 40 yards and a dismal passer rating of 35.4.

Asked to assess his performance, Hutchinson said, "Not good. But I'm going to look at the film for a couple days and get better, learn, and it can only go up from here. That's the positive part. I have two more games to improve."

After completing his first two passes for short gains, he was intercepted by Colts linebacker Gary Brackett. His pass was high to Muhsin Muhammad, who was unable to corral it as he was being hit by Indy cornerback Marlin Jackson, and the ball deflected to Brackett, who returned it seven yards to the Indy 42.

Brackett intercepted Hutchinson again with 2:53 left in the first half, as he threw into triple coverage looking for tight end Desmond Clark.

"If I put the ball a little bit lower on Muhsin, he doesn't get hit," Hutchinson said. "And then I tried to squeeze one in to Desmond. I have to eliminate those two things."

Hutchinson he has always exhibited a tendency to hold the ball too long, dating to his days in Dallas as a rookie starter, but Bears coach Lovie Smith blamed the three sacks more on the offensive line than on the quarterback.

"Most of the time you look at sacks as a combination of both, but I would say there's more (blame) along the line than just on Chad. They were on him pretty quick."

The Bears played without Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz, who was ill, and starting running back Thomas Jones was rested, but the running game still played impressively, which should have made Hutchinson's job easier. Instead, the defense needed to bail him out of interceptions twice in the first quarter.

"We didn't play as well as we need to on the offensive side of the football," Smith said. "We need to play better, and we will play better. Chad's first time out he ran the offense fairly well, but we need to make a couple plays and he'll play better the next time out."

One poor outing is unlikely to shake the confident Hutchinson, who is anxious to show that he can put up better results than last season, when he was 1-4 after being tossed into Terry Shea's disjointed offense after learning the scheme on the fly. He wasn't picked up by the Bears until Sept. 28 last season.

After the Colts game, Hutchinson seemed unfazed.

"After the first interception, I said, 'Oh well, let's get back out there,'" he said. "I went after it again and threw another one. Those things are going to happen, but those aren't the kinds of mistakes I'm used to making."

Whether a full off-season in the program allows Hutchinson to lead the offense to the same lofty heights expected with Grossman remains to be seen. But the Bears' brain trust is hoping for the best.

"He's much more prepared," said GM Jerry Angelo. "He's comfortable with the system. He just needs the reps, and we have plenty of time to give him that. We brought him in last year during the season, and that's a tough time to train a player."

Hutchinson exudes the confidence that he says comes from being much more familiar with a system that he believes in - unlike last season.

"Chad wants to compete," center Olin Kreutz said. "He wants to win games. He has everything it takes."


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