Chicago Bears fans have been split 50/50 on whether Jay Cutler is the guy that can lead them to a championship. Many think he’s a punk. A crybaby. A whiner. A quitter. I happen to be part of the 50% that thinks he can lead them to a Super Bowl. And not just get to the Super Bowl, but win it.
Resigning Jay Cutler was the right move. Actually, it was a no-brainer for both sides. Chicago wasn’t going to find a quarterback on the free agent market or draft that can do what Jay can do. And Jay wasn’t going to find another team with two Pro Bowl caliber receivers, a Pro Bowl running back, a very good tight end, and a good offensive line. Not to mention, Cutler grew up a Bears fan. How many kids get to grow up and play for their favorite team? He wanted to be a Bear, and more importantly, Chicago wanted him to be a Bear.
I admit he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype, but I don’t necessarily think it’s all his fault. In his five seasons in Chicago he’s played for two head coaches and numerous offensive coordinators; Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice, and MarcTrestman. (I am aware that Marc Trestman was not the offensive coordinator, but he did call the plays.) So that’s four different offensive schemes in five years. That couldn’t have been easy. Yet Jay didn’t complain once (at least not publicly).
He’s also played for some dreadful offensive lines. In 2010 he was sacked 52 times (including a 9 sack game against the New York Giants). In 2012 he was sacked 38 times in 15 games. However, in 2013 he was sacked only 19 times in 11 games. Because of the better line play Cutler posted the best passer rating of his career (89.2). He threw for 2621 yards and had 19 touchdowns to go with 12 interceptions. He missed 5 games groin and ankle injuries that severely limited his mobility. Before the injuries his passer rating was well over 90.
With a much improved offensive line, a Pro Bowl running back in Matt Forte, and two stud receivers (Brandon Marshall & Alshon Jeffery), the Bears went from scoring 23.4 points per game in 2012 to 27.8 ppg in 2013. The Bears have improved offensively every year since Cutler arrived in 2009.
2009 = 20.4
2010 = 20.8
2011 = 22.1
2012 = 23.4
2013 = 27.8
That’s over a touchdown a game improvement since 2009. Now that didn’t necessarily show up in the win column this year, but it’s hard to get W’s when your defense is giving up nearly 30 points per game. There is no reason to think that offense won’t continue to roll in 2014. It’s going to have to, unless the defense improves.
Many people pined for backup Josh McCown to be the Bears quarterback of the immediate future. McCown played out of his mind while filling in for the injured Cutler. The 11 year journeyman QB posted a Bears franchise record passer rating of 109.0. He threw 13 touchdowns while throwing just one interception. Hopefully the Bears can resign him, but that’s not a lock either. According to the Chicago Sun Times’ Adam Jahn’s McCown is considering retirement.
Resigning Jay was the right move. He has a cannon for an arm. He thinks he can make any throw, which is good and bad, but mostly good. I think the most improved part of Cutler’s game was learning to dump it off to Forte. Forte caught 74 balls this year, which was 11 more than his previous high (63) set his rookie year, the year before Cutler got there. Forte only caught 44 passes in 2012. Jay’s new found ability to check down to Forte lead to his highest completion percentage during his time in Chicago (63.1) which was the 2nd highest of his career.
Now, let’s fix that defense!