The Bears 2009 trade for Jay Cutler seemed to be the trade for a franchise Quarterback that Bears fans had been waiting for for many generations. He was only 26 when he arrived in Chicago. Cutler’s strong arm and probowl appearance after the 2008 season had Chicago excited to finally get a QB they could bank their future on. The Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN 1000 proclaimed Happy Jay Cutler day for months to come after that.
Cutler has shown flashes of brilliance and at other times has been maddeningly inconsistent. How the Bears finish this season and how they play in 2013 could determine Cutler’s future and the future of the franchise.
Before coming to the Bears, Cutler had not missed a game since becoming a starter in Denver in 2007. After making it through his first season in a Bears uniform unscathed, his injury problems began in his second season in Chicago.
The Bears began the 2010 season 3-0. They traveled to New York for a Sunday Night Showdown with the Giants in Week four. The Giants used a relentless pass rush, sacking Cutler nine times and knocking him out of the game with a concussion. The Giants had nine of their ten sacks in the first half.
Cutler missed the first game of his NFL Career the following week against Carolina.
Cutler stayed healthy through the first ten games of the 2011 season. The Bears were 7-3 and hosted San Diego in week 11. With the Bears holding a double digit lead in the fourth quarter, Cutler attempted to tackle the Chargers’ Antoine Cason after throwing an interception. Cutler broke his thumb ending his season. After a five game winning streak, the Bears then dropped their last five to fall out of the playoff hunt.
He has suffered more concussions this season, plus a sprained MCL and a stiff neck that knocked him out of the Bears loss at Minnesota earlier this month. After trading two first round picks to acquire Cutler, it will be hard to justify a huge contract if they are not sure if he can stay healthy.
Cutler is a streaky Quarterback who tends to rely more on his athletic ability (specifically his arm and elusiveness) than reading the defense or football intellect. He looks like a Franchise Quarterback at times and backup at others. He has had 21 games in a Bears uniform with a Quarterback rating under 70. He has also had 20 games with a QB rating over 90.
He inconsistency can be maddening at times for fans and the media. Although Lovie Smith always plays things even keel, Cutler’s inconsistency has to be frustrating. Consistent play at Quarterback is something that all successful teams rely on.
Lack of Leadership Skills
Cutler personality and leadership ability have been questioned for almost all of his tenure in Chicago. He has had sideline arguments with left tackle J’Marcus Webb and Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice.
He has frequently been seen sulking on the sidelines. His body language has been repeatedly questioned by his peers, the media and the fans. Quarterbacks have often been compared to Ceo's. Its questionable at this point if Cutler has what it takes to be the Bears leader.
In the early stages of his tenure in Chicago, Superbowl winning coaches Mike Ditka and Tony Dungy both stated that Cutler didn't have what it takes to lead a winning team. Although his 32-22 record as a Bear could be argued otherwise, the fact that the Bears only have one playoff win in his first three seasons seem to work against Cutler.
Inability to Beat Green Bay
After Sunday’s loss, Cutler is now 1-8 against Green Bay (including the 2010 NFC Championship game). Cutler’s one win against the Packers was a 20-17 come from behind victory on Monday Night Football on September 27, 2010. The Bears amassed only 277 total yards. Their only second half touchdown was a Devin Hester 62 yard punt return in the fourth quarter.
The Bears have lost six straight games to the Packers since. Included in those are the 2010 NFC Championship game, and both games this season that are the difference in the Packers clinching the NFC North in Week 15.
When Lovie Smith took the job with the Bears in 2004, he stressed the importance of defeating Green Bay every season. The losing streak to the Packers could cost Smith his job this season and Cutler his job after the 2013 season.
Only One Playoff Appearances in Three Seasons
After a 7-1 start this season, the most frequent question about the Bears playoff seeding was if they could beat out San Francisco and Atlanta for homefield advantage in the NFC. With the loss to the Packers, the Bears now need to win their last two games at Arizona and Detroit to get a wildcard. The Bears face a real possibility of becoming the first team since the 2002 Realignment to miss the playoffs after starting 7-1.
Football is the ultimate team sport. Whether fair or not, like a goalie in hockey or soccer or a pitcher in baseball, a Quarterback is judged by wins and losses. It’s the only position in football that is a assigned a wins loss record and also has a record of their performance late in games.
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