The Bears are a mess from top to bottom, and would be a flaming grease fire even without Jay Cutler. Marc Trestman has proven all of his longtime doubters correct by showing he’s not a strong head coach. The owners have proven time and again their culture is one of mediocrity and thriftiness. The defense couldn’t slow down a flock of butterflies from the garden.
But Jay Cutler is an enormous part of the problem, and his career has been defined by the ultimate in athlete coddling. No matter where he has been, Juvenile Jay has been rewarded with the keys to the offense, a contract extension or a better set of toys in the playroom. A severe void of winning and leadership don’t seem to be held against him very often, at least not by his employers. While fans and media seem to be onto his Power Arm Ponzi Scheme, the people writing his checks keep making excuses for him.
Monday night’s disaster against the Saints was a fait accompli. The Bears stink. The franchise is rotten. And the Saints came into windy, rainy Soldier Field to run amok over Chicago. The Bears went down 24-0, Cutler threw three INTs, and was sacked 7 times. Please drive home safely.
Last week Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer ignited a firestorm by admitting he had bashed Cutler off the record to the NFL Network. Which led to, of course, the blame falling on Kromer. The “sanctity” of the locker room was breached. Kromer had to apologize publicly. Trestman scolded Kromer to the press. Cutler sat at the podium like a teenager who found out he was shot down for the prom by reading about it on Facebook.
But Kromer was right. Cutler has been the main culprit in how bad the Bears are. And for a squad which depends on its array of offensive weapons to carry a toothless defense, the team should have buyer’s remorse after that huge contract extension. Cutler is now in his ninth season running an offense, and has been a full-time starter since ’07. He’s been to the playoffs exactly once. He is almost perfectly .500 for his career, 61-57. He leads the league in turnovers this year. He has never even finished a season with a quarterback rating in the 90s. Meantime, Cutler’s division rival Aaron Rodgers has had a rating in the triple digits every season since ’09.
But Cutler doesn’t have to be Rodgers. No one is. Juvenile Jay just needs to be better than this, because if he’s not, why does he keep getting so many opportunities thrown at his feet? He came out of Vanderbilt, hailed as a savior because he took the perennially awful Commodores to respectability. Although Vandy was only 11-35 (5-27 in the SEC) with Jay as their 4-year starter, he was lauded as a difference-maker.
He was drafted by the Broncos as the 11th overall pick, and was teamed with one of the generation’s foremost offensive minds, Mike Shanahan. Along with Brandon Marshall, and Denver’s tremendous zone blocking scheme, the Broncos were a middling 7-9 and 8-8, before Cutler’s trade to Chicago. The Bears felt he was worth two first-round draft picks, a third-rounder and Kyle Orton. Yikes.
With the Bears he was given Marshall again. As well as Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, and Alshon Jeffery. But still, not enough winning. Lovie Smith gets canned two years ago because the offense is too stagnant. A coach who led the Bears with Rex Grossman to their only Super Bowl since the ’85 championship, was blamed. Because it’s easier to fire the coach and not the quarterback. “You have to bring in a better offensive mind!” people shouted. “Help Cutler get to the next level!” More excuses for Jay.
Last year after going just 5-6 as a starter, Jay was rewarded by the Bears front office by being made the richest quarterback in the league. It averages $18 million for the first three seasons, and guarantees him $38 million. “He can be elite! He just needs another year in the offense! He’s gotta stay healthy!” Cutler’s Bears are 5-7 this year, and he’ll get another set of coaches fired.
His one playoff run was ’10, when Cutler had an excellent game against Seattle (2 touchdowns thrown, 2 on the ground) in a blowout win. But the good was quickly followed up by the bad and controversial. The Bears lost the NFC Championship game at home to Green Bay, and who can forget Cutler standing on the sideline injured and emotionless, with a blank stare, not even enough energy for fist bump for his backup Caleb Hanie? Players around the league howled on Twitter at how pathetic Cutler’s body language was. Defenders came out to fight for Cutler. “How can you know if he’s really hurt!? Who cares about how he looks on the sideline!?”
For such an undistinguished career (he’s made just one Pro Bowl), the world keeps expecting Jay to grow into an elite quarterback. He has a rocket arm, and every so often will connect a laser beam that few would even try. But in a world where we declared Tony Romo an eternal choke artist (he’s been magnificent late in games this season) and have bagged Johnny Manziel’s career after just one awful start, it’s amazing everyone keeps waiting for Cutler to change. Robert Griffin is rendered a bust two years after leading his team to a division title. Colin Kapernick is a massive project a year after coming within a play of his second Super Bowl. But Cutler? We keep waiting.
He is what he is. Which is not very good. But like the restless problem child in school, let’s keep blaming the teacher or the curriculum or his classmates. Because it just can’t be all his fault.
D.A. hosts overnights across the ever expanding universe of CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10″ opining on Zubaz pants, Tecmo Bowl and Andre Reed’s HOF credentials. D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and immediately started looking for ways to make a sports radio show more like a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and become one with the Facebook page experience. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY – a sleepy town existing somewhere between the suburbs and the sticks.