Cutler Smoking Gun or Sleeping Bear?
It’s been a long and bumpy road for Jay Cutler during his 11-year career as a quarterback in the NFL. As a member of the Denver Broncos (2006-2008) and the Chicago Bears (2009-present), he’s started 137 games while posting a 68-69 record. His 32,033 passing yards and 206 touchdowns place him 39th and 38th respectively, on the all-time passing lists for those categories. However, the 33-year-old signal caller is on thin ice as a starter, not only in Chicago but throughout the NFL as well.
Dating back to his tenure with Denver, Cutler had always been scrutinized for the intangibles that come along with playing the quarterback position. His leadership skills, body language, and communication with his teammates and coaches have all been magnified through the years, especially when he plays poorly. Cutler is known for his nonchalant gestures and attitude at times, which doesn’t bode well for remaining in good graces with the locker room and fan base.
“In a what have you done for me lately league?” Cutler’s production could be categorized as poor in recent memory. He hasn’t had a winning record since 2012, in which he finished 10-5. He threw for 3,033 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions that year, but followed it up with a 5-6 mark in an injury-stricken 2013. Cutler didn’t fare any better in the years to follow.
- In 2014, Cutler finished with a 5-10 record, passed for 3,812 yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
- In 2015, he finished with a 6-9 record, passed for 3,659 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
|Bears 8 Years||100||51-49-0||23009||152||106||85.5||243|
|Broncos 3 Years||37||17-20-0||9024||54||37||87.1||51|
Currently, in 2016, Cutler is 1-2 while only passing for 625 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. Add on an average annual salary of $18.1 million from the seven-year, $126.7 million contract that he signed in 2014 and his days in Chicago appear to be numbered. If the Bears decide to part ways with their inconsistent signal caller in the offseason, they would only take a $2 million cap hit, while opening up $13 million in space despite the fact that there are four years left on the deal. However, Cutler could make it difficult for Chicago’s front office to let him go with a strong finish to 2016.
Barring setbacks, Cutler will complete the season as Chicago’s starter. That wasn’t the case two weeks ago, though. After spraining his thumb in Week 2, Cutler watched from the sidelines while a smoking hot Brian Hoyer lit up the stat sheets in his absence. He threw for an excess of 300 yards in all four of his starts, leading the Bears to a 1-3 record before suffering a season-ending forearm injury in Week 7’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. With Hoyer sidelined, Chicago turned back to Cutler to lead their team in the second half of the year over an inexperienced Matt Barkley. It was a decision that paid off immediately.
Cutler started Week 8’s crucial Divisional matchup against the Minnesota Vikings and their top five defense. On paper, it was a game that he should have struggled in. Instead, he prevailed. Cutler led the Bears to a 20-10 victory last week and threw for 252 yards and a touchdown. It was the first game in which he did not throw an interception dating back to Week 16 of the 2015 campaign.
If Cutler plays well for the remainder of the year, there is a chance that he will remain Chicago’s starter in 2017. However, in all likelihood, 2016 will be his final season with the Bears. In eight seasons in Chicago, he led the team to the postseason only once, in 2010, where they lost to Green Bay in the NFC Championship game. His tenure with the Bears could arguably be summed up in one word, disappointing.
Whether it’s in Chicago or with a new club, Cutler will start in the NFL next season. He’s proven that he can win at the professional level and succeeded statistically, albeit inconsistent at times. Perhaps, a change of cities is what is needed for Cutler to turn his legacy around at the back end of his career.