By ANDREW SELIGMAN
CHICAGO — The first step for Jay Cutler was a bit wobbly. Maybe this one will be a little smoother.
The Chicago Bears meet the San Diego Chargers today, and all eyes will remain on Cutler as he tries to adapt to new coach Marc Trestman’s offense.
“We’re moving along,” Cutler said. “I don’t think I can pinpoint exactly where we’re at, but we’re definitely getting better each and every day. Like I just said, there’s ups and downs and there’s positives and negatives. We’re trying to look at the negatives and try to fix those as quickly as possible and continue to find more and more positives each and every day.”
The Chargers are in a similar spot. Both teams are adjusting to new head coaches, and both are trying to build off shaky preseason openers.
The Bears fell 24-17 at Carolina. San Diego got pounded 31-10 by Seattle.
“We have to minimize the mistakes we made from the other night’s game,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “We can’t make the same mistake twice. The first preseason game you do not game plan a ton for. This game we’ll put in a few different wrinkles. We’ve seen the team play in a game once, so we have a good idea of what they do or what they did. We just need to keep getting better every day and be ready for the opener.”“
For the Bears, there was plenty of room for improvement from the Carolina game.
Cutler got intercepted by Josh Norman on Chicago’s first play from scrimmage, setting up a Panthers touchdown, on a pass intended for Alshon Jeffery. The ball was thrown to the wrong shoulder, leading to the pick.
Cutler settled down to complete 6 of 8 passes for 56 yards, but Chicago managed only a field goal in the first three quarters, not what the Bears envisioned when they hired Trestman.
The brought him in to replace the fired Lovie Smith, hoping he can maximize their strong-armed quarterback and lead the Bears back to the playoffs after they missed out for the fifth time in six years.
How Cutler meshes with Trestman will go a long way toward determining that. For now, consider it a work in progress.
“You always want to see points,” Trestman said. “That would be No. 1. We want to score. For the time we’re out there, we hope we will. We’re going to do everything we can to do that. Just consistency, getting in and out of the huddle, being physical at the line of scrimmage. Winning the line of scrimmage is always the first part of it.”
No quarterback has taken a bigger pounding than Cutler since he arrived in Chicago in 2009, and the Bears tried to address that by beefing up their blocking in the offseason. The biggest addition was Jermon Bushrod at left tackle, but some big questions remain on the offensive line.
The right side is expected to have a different look, with rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills likely to start at guard and tackle after James Brown and J’Marcus Webb got knocked to the second team this week.
The Bears might also try to get Matt Forte more involved after he carried just once and lost a yard against Carolina.
“It’s a new offense,” Cutler said. “It’s different guys. I don’t think you can really say we need to be here, we need to be there. It’s just, there’s too many variables. We’re definitely getting better. I think guys are getting more and more comfortable with the offense. It’s just one of those things you’ve got to come out every day and pick out one thing and try to get better at it.”
As for the Chargers, they looked like, well, the Chargers against the Seahawks last week.
There was one small victory for them — Rivers. He didn’t get sacked or cough up the ball after getting taken down 49 times and committing 22 turnovers a year ago. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 45 yards and led the Chargers 74 yards for a field goal on his lone possession, but there wasn’t much else for San Diego to celebrate. Rookie linebacker Manti Te’o sprained his right foot in the game and won’t play against Chicago.
“We’re really focusing on us right now but it will be a good test for our team — to go on the road and play in a tough environment,” Rivers said. “They have a new coach and new system there. It will be our first test on the road with the noise and all those elements that you have to manage. We want to go get our first win.”