The pieces are in place for Cutler to succeed and for his reputation as a top quarterback to finally be justified.
When you think of Jay Cutler, what comes to mind?
Well, I always seem to picture the Bears quarterback as looking disinterested. I imagine Cutler is the kind of guy that walks around Chicago, is encountered by starstruck Bears fans saying, ”Hey Jay!” or “Love ya, Jay!”, or “Why did you make that stupid throw into double coverage Jay?” and his typical response is just a flat, monotone…
He’s always had a “whatever” attitude, but that’s not the real issue I have with the former Commodore. All I want to see from Cutler is for him to become what we all think he can be.
The 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Cutler has long been in the realm of quarterbacks that we always seem to hope and expect to do well; but in the end, we always ask the same question, why?
Why, do we ask why? Well, because Cutler undoubtedly has one of the better arms in the NFL, his release of the football is unrivaled, and he possesses above-average mobility skills. To make a long story short, Cutler has all the traits you look for in a star passer.
As much as we drool over Cutler’s talent, the final product just hasn’t been put together. After signing a 7-year $126 million extension in January (Cutler will be making $22.5 million in base salary this season), it appears that he may finally have all the keys to produce the stats his abilities are capable of; it is time for Jay to step up his game. But don’t get me wrong, there are aspects of Cutler’s game that need to improve.
The first of those being durability.
When was the last time Cutler played a full 16-game schedule? Not since 2009, his first year with Chicago. From the beginning of the 2010 season, Cutler has played in only 79% of the Bears’ games. A lot of that has to do with Cutler having been sacked 167 times since 2009, including a league-leading 52 times in 2010. However, an offensive line consisting of veterans like Roberto Garza, Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson, mixed with second year up-and-comers Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, should lead to Cutler looking down field more often than at the sky.
Secondly, Cutler needs to stop forcing the football and make smarter plays. Only twice in his career has Cutler thrown less than 10 interceptions in a season, and in those two seasons, he combined to play in only 15 games. In 2009, Cutler led the NFL with 26 INTs, and last season, he threw 12 INTs in 11 games. His lack of O-line protection probably had a lot to do with him being hurried, but if you’ve ever watched Cutler play, you know what I’m getting at.
So, why is it that Cutler should see his stock rise? Well, I’ll start with two reasons.
You can make an argument for the Broncos, Lions or Falcons having the best wide-receiving corps in football, but be realistic. There is not a better, more athletic receiving duo than Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and my favorite aspect of these two is their sheer size; Marshall stands 6‘4, Jeffery stands around 6‘3. If Cutler is smart, he’ll make his receivers do the work for him, as they’ve shown they can do (who else could make Josh McCown look like Joe Montana?).
Add an athletic tight end in Martellus Bennett, another veteran receiver like Santonio Holmes, and the best running back no one talks about in Matt Forte, and you get an above-average offense in terms of talent. There is plenty to go around, so why not use it?
Last season, the Bears threw the ball on 58.9% of their plays, good for 12th in the NFL. Moreover, Chicago was 8th in Y/A (7.7) and 5th in passing yards (4,281). If I’m head coach Marc Trestman, I’m not going to allow Cutler to beat himself, but instead give Matt Forte even more responsibility on offense. I would run the ball, open the field for Marshall and Jeffery to methodically slice defenses, and let Jay get comfortable. Put the talent that’s been assembled to work.
As much as I hate the idea of putting less pressure on a quarterback - especially a $126 million quarterback - my gut tells me with another year of Trestman’s offense under his belt, another year of maturation for Long and Mills on the offense line, and another year of football experience for Jeffery, Cutler shouldn’t feel pressured to perform. I would let Jay slowly work into a comfortable, confident mindset and, by seasons end, he should be playing at an All-Pro level.
We’ve seen the Cutler glimpses before, but with the money, the weapons and the expectations, it’s time to perform.
I have a feeling he will.
Edited by Alan Carabes.
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