I want Jay Cutler to succeed. I want him to be one of the obvious five best quarterbacks in the NFL. I want him to put up fantastic numbers every week, but very few quarterbacks in the NFL are actually capable of achieving this. While he certainly possess the talent to still reach this level at some point in his career, what can the oft-criticized QB realistically offer Bears fans this year?
Based on what we've seen from Cutler since his arrival in Chicago, fans know that above all else, the QB offers the threat of greatness. At any point, an opposing defense knows that Cutler is capable of burning them for big yards and quick points. Likewise, that defense knows it can pressure Cutler and potentially wait for the ball to be delivered to them. Inconsistency has been the story for Cutler, and remains to be now.
Consider that perhaps Jay will never reach true "elite" NFL quarterback status. Is that so bad? I question whether the Bears truly need an elite quarterback to succeed, and compete for a Superbowl. Certainly, I would prefer for Cutler to rise to that level, and be the reason the Lombardi trophy returns to Chicago, but perhaps the threat of Cutler's greatness can be enough.
Especially considering how well the defense has played this year, the Bears simply need to be "good enough" during any specific game. Although the true challenges still lie ahead of the Bears, in the form of the Texans, 49ers and Packers, thus far Cutler has been able to do just enough in each game.
While yesterday's performance was overwhelmingly lackluster, Cutler still commanded the fourth quarter of the game, and found TE Kellan Davis for a touchdown, which in turn began changing the momentum of the game. Aside from the dismal game in Green Bay, Brandon Marshall has been a consistent threat for opposing defenses to worry about, and, overall, the rushing attack has been effective as well. What is the point of all this?
In years to come, as the defense we have grown used to in Chicago continues to age and decay, the Bears may need more from Cutler. He may need to be the QB that can carry the team on his back, both with his play and leadership... but right now, the Bears simply do not need all that from Cutler.
Since last season, Jay is 13-4. Supporters of Kyle Orton railed on his winning record, labeling him a "winner." If 13-4 does not constitute Cutler being considered a winner, I'm not sure what would. Jay has plenty of issues to work on, but he certainly has a better arsenal of abilities than Orton ever offered, and is capable of taking control of a game and contributing to a win, something very few Bears QBs ever could claim.
Cutler does not need to be fantastic all season for the Bears to compete for a Superbowl title. He does not need to be the quarterback we all want him to be. While the defense has found some extra life, let us ride this season out. The true challenges will be there in weeks to come, but the Bears have been just as consistent as any of their upcoming opponents have been.
The Texans looked as bad against the Packers as the Bears did, but the Packers have also lost to the Indianapolis Colts, whom the Bears recorded their most impressive win of the season against. Likewise, the 49ers played an awful game at home against a streaky New York Giants team. Meanwhile, the Bears have won some "easy" games handily, while yesterday's, and a few others, offered some nail-biting moments.
Simply put, the Bears have taken care of their business as well as anyone in the NFC. Although the Atlanta Falcons remain undefeated, they have certainly showcased a few deficiencies themselves, and are completely unproven in playoff games.
If Cutler would throw for 250 plus yards, multiple touchdowns, and fewer interceptions every week, that would be fantastic, but perhaps we should prepare for the alternative. Cutler has the ability to be great against any team, and when he is not at the top of his game, the Bears appear to be balanced and well-rounded enough to make up for that lack of consistency. Cutler can pick up his runningbacks and defense, and they have the ability to pick him up as well.
The Bears do not need Cutler to be a "game-manager;" he has too much talent and ability for that. The Bears just don't need him to be an elite quarterback either. We will see exactly what they can do against some of the better teams in the NFC, but for now the Bears are 6-1 and finding a way to win games nearly every week.
Until they start finding ways to lose them, I am going to count on those winning ways to continue, whether its because of Jay or any other facet of the team.