- Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune points out that Cutler continues to overthrow receivers and attributes it to poor mechanics. But he then offers no specifics about what is wrong with those mechanics and gives us nothing to look for. Frustrating.
- I’m not in the business of bashing quarterback Jay Cutler. Too much. But I found this article by Campbell to be pretty amusing. He first starts off by quoting an exchange between GM Phil Emery and a fan on the Bears website:
“Q: ‘Given Jay’s enormous contract in the offseason – how happy are you with his performance thus far? I’m a huge Jay Cutler fan, but he can’t seem to make that leap to elite status and just makes too many mistakes.’
“Emery: ‘Jay Cutler is a winning quarterback in this league and no matter how you analyze the history of quarterbacks in the NFL, if you have a winning record you are an elite player at that position. I’ll say it again: Jay has enormous skills and he continues to improve in all areas as a football player. I know he has some throws he would like to have back, but all of our players have had plays that they would like to have back.'”
He then quotes the statistics (only some of which I’ll include here):
“Cutler’s teams have a 59-52 record in games he has started during his eight-plus NFL seasons.
“The Bears, for whom Cutler has played the last six seasons, are 42-32 when he has started. Since coach Marc Trestman took over before the 2013 season, the Bears are 8-10 when Cutler has started.
“Cutler is 1-1 in the postseason, having beaten the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in 2010. The Bears lost the NFC championship game at home that season to the Green Bay Packers. Cutler did not finish the game due to a knee injury.”
OK. Maybe it’s not so funny.
- Biggs answers your questions:
“How is it that nationally, Matt Ryan is not held to the same scrutiny that Jay Cutler is?””– Brian C., from email”
“The difference between Ryan and Cutler over the course of their careers is Ryan has experienced sustained success. His record as a starter in his first five seasons was 56-22. He experienced two 13-3 seasons and helped the Falcons to the playoffs in four out of five years. Cutler is in his sixth season with the Bears and they have reached the postseason once. The Bears have been unable to sustain success under Cutler and that is probably the best explanation for the difference in perceptions nationally for the quarterbacks.”
Nationally Cutler is most criticized for his tendency to turn the ball over. Even I’m surprised to see that he has 8 fumbles this year compared to Ryan’s 1 fumble.
- Here’s another interesting response from Biggs:
“Why is no one talking about the inability of the Bears to tackle properly?””– John J., from email”
“This is a question I could pull out of the mailbag five or six times a year.”
“But I think most observers would agree the Bears have been better tackling in the open field this season. Open-field tackling is difficult, for starters. When it’s one-on-one, that’s not always an easy play to make. How many times do you see tight end Martellus Bennett slip by a defender? It happens usually at least once a game. So tackles are missed on both sides of the ball.”
I couldn’t agree more. I’m usually one of the first people to start criticizing tackles on a game-to-game basis. But you can’t do it unless you are seeing it consistently over and over again. Seeing players miss the occasional tackle is not unusual and its not a big deal. There are lots of things to criticize about the Bears this year. This isn’t one of them. Yet.
One Final Thought
Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times describes the reason given for the fact that the Bears ran so little in the first half Sunday:
“Cutler said he made the right decisions when changing plays from runs to passes in the 27-14 loss Sunday to the Dolphins, even though he handed the ball off only two times in the first half.
“He changed two runs to passes and decided to throw on two more run/pass options. One, a deep incompletion to Alshon Jeffery on third-and-one, stalled the Bears’ first drive and seemed to mire them in a funk that lasted the first half.”
Translation: They couldn’t pass against a run defense.
The excerpt highlights what is wrong with the media focus on Cutler’s performance last week. Most writers have emphasized the fact that Cutler has mental breakdowns which result in turnovers, something that Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune does a particularly good job of highlighting here. They also ridicule the idea put forward by the team that turnovers are a team statistic. But perhaps they shouldn’t be so hasty as, in a way, this is particularly true of Bears.
The Bears insist that Cutler is an elite quarterback, something that is patently absurd. The Packers Aaron Rogers is an elite quarterback. He makes everyone around him better. Cutler depends upon everyone around him to make him better. And that’s the rub.
Cutler is the kind of guy who is going to be a great quarterback when things are going well. But when the going gets tough, Cutler’s not going to get going. That’s what happened last Sunday. The Dolphins were blitzing and playing the run and the Bears receivers were getting blanketed in single coverage. The team was sinking and in those situations Cutler isn’t going to be the life raft that keeps them afloat. He’s going to be a lead weight that takes them to the bottom.
That’s why Cutler’s turnovers are a team statistic. Most media and fans are laboring under the mistaken impression that Cutler’s turnovers are causing the team to underperform. Its the other way around. Like it or not, whether you think its the way that it should be or not, its the team’s poor play that is resulting in Cutler’s poor play.
If the Bears want to get better, they’re wasting their time if they are depending upon making Cutler better first. They should certainly try but he’s 33 years old and everyone has to accept that he is what he is. The only way the Bears are going to get better is by coaching up the other positions and making them better. If they do that, Cutler will follow.