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Lights, camera, turnovers

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler passes against the Bengals during the Bears' 24-21, season-opening victory Sept. 8 in Chicago.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler passes against the Bengals during the Bears' 24-21, season-opening victory Sept. 8 in Chicago.

LAKE FOREST – Jay Cutler apparently has been brainwashed by coach Marc Trestman and the Bears’ high-tempo offense.

Because when Cutler appeared with celebrity wife Kristin Cavallari on the FX sitcom, “The League,” the 30-year-old quarterback struggled to fill the downtime.

“It was good,” Cutler said Thursday at Halas Hall, where the Bears continued to prepare for the Steelers. “But like I told Kristin, it’s a lot of waiting around. You do your thing and then, you know, it’s like 3 hours [of] just sitting around.

“I was like, ‘This is what you do?’ Played on the iPad, played some cards. It was fun, but I don’t think I would’ve done it if she wouldn’t have asked me.”

Does he respect his wife’s job more or less after the experience?

“I’m supposed to say more, right?” Cutler said with a wry smile.

Yes, you are.

Now, we can add “sitcom actor” to Cutler’s many descriptions.

Mr. Fourth Quarter.

Mr. Awful Interception.

Mr. Franchise Quarterback.

Mr. Sack-Fumble.

It’s all true.

All of it.

These are happy times for the Bears. A pair of fourth-quarter comebacks has lifted them to 2-0, and they sit atop the NFC North as one of only three unbeaten teams in the conference.

Meanwhile, Cutler has played well more often than he has played badly.

Entering Week 3, his 95.6 passer rating placed him 10th among NFL quarterbacks and ahead of star opponents such as Drew Brees (87.4), Colin Kaepernick (81.6) and Tom Brady (74.1).

“I think we’re in a good spot right now,” Cutler said.

Hey, that’s great.

But if the Bears want to be something more than September darlings, something Super, then Cutler must cut down on his careless mistakes. And I’m not sure that’s possible.

Can you coach turnovers out of Cutler?

Well, I don’t know. Can you coach sailboats out of Lake Michigan in the summertime? Can you coach delays out of O’Hare? Can you coach height out of the old Sears Tower?

Every coach who has worked with Cutler has tried to limit the damage.

Ron Turner isn’t here anymore. Neither is Mike Martz. Neither is Mike Tice. For that matter, neither is Pep Hamilton or Shane Day or Jeremy Bates.

Trestman is here now to fix No. 6. He is joined by Matt Cavanaugh, the Bears’ quarterbacks coach, who confers with Cutler on the sidelines during game days.

So far, like every season before, Cutler’s game days have resembled roller-coaster rides.

Cutler already has four turnovers this season, including three in his most recent game against the Minnesota Vikings. Instead of throwing the ball out of bounds and trying again on second-and-goal, he forced a pass that was intercepted in the end zone.

Instead of recognizing Vikings safety Harrison Smith lurking across the middle of the field, he lobbed a pass that was intercepted in the red zone. Instead of securing the ball, he let it dangle and coughed up a costly fumble on a sack by Jared Allen.

Now comes the Bears’ first road game of the regular season at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. Cutler will face a hostile crowd, an aggressive 3-4 defense and a prime-time audience.

Is anyone else seeing turnovers in the forecast?

“We won’t be perfect out there,” Cutler said. “We’re going to see some stuff that maybe [causes us to] mess up, but we just have to work through it, work through the crowd noise, and get to the second half in a good place for us to win the game.”

Maybe Cutler will prove me wrong. Maybe he’ll be more mindful of protecting the football and decide that it’s OK to be a caretaker instead of a gunslinger.

Or maybe Cutler always will flirt with the extremes.

Mr. Incredible.

Mr. Infuriating.

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