I know this is going to be a VERY unpopular article. Jay Cutler is treated as something like a messiah on this website, and I'm at least partially guilty of this offense. There is no question in my mind that Jay Cutler is the single most talented player on the offensive side of the Bears team. He is one of only a handfull of quarterbacks in the world that could possibly run this offense with anything near competency behind this atrocious offensive line. However, I'm going to at least try and make the case that the Bears should consider making Cutler the #2 QB for this weekend's tilt with the Washington Redskins.The Washington Redskins are a bad defense
This has been proven over and over again. But, I want to delve a little bit deeper into what makes them such a bad defense, and how the stats might be skewed, at least slightly, in a manner that would make Mad Mike Martz into the obsessively pass-happy coordinator he's been for 5 games this season.
The Washington Redskins are ranked 31st in passing defense, giving up an average of 298.2 yards per game. In terms of yards per attempt, they have been slightly better, T11 worst at 7.1 YPA. However, look at the teams that they have been playing against. Dallas, Houston, @St. Louis, @Philly, Green Bay, and Indianapolis. The Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, and Packers are all Top 10 passing games by YPG. Houston has one of the best WRs in Andre Johnson and are ranked 11th in YPG, and the Rams are surprisingly not terrible, ranking 19th with 210.7 YPG. Going YPA, 5 of those teams are in the top 10, while St. Louis is predictably bad, ranking T30 with a 5.8 YPA. The Redskins have played some tremendously talented passing teams, so their ranking against the pass is predictably bad. If the Bears had a similar schedule, they'd probably also be similarly ranked against the pass.
Looking game by game, the least amount of passing yards they allowed was 235 to Sam Bradford, who has been emerging all year. They did manage to slow down the Eagles somewhat, though that was at least partially due to Vick getting injured. Most of their matchups, they gave up roughly what the opponent has been averaging all year, with the exception of the Texans who rolled them completely.
Also, think about this. The Skins are ranked T11 with 13 sacks. And while those 13 sacks have come on the most passes defended by any single team in the NFL, it's still 13 sacks. The Skins can still get to the quarterback when they need to. With our offensive line, I don't want to risk Cutler any more than we absolutely have to.
On the other side, the Skins are 24th in rushing defense, with 121.8 YPG, only slightly better than the Carolina Panthers at 134.4 YPG. The Skins are worse when you go YPA, 6th worst at 4.7. That's worse than the Carolina Panthers, who are 24th at 3.8 YPA. Now, once again, look at their schedule. The running teams they've faced have been a little bit more spread out. The highest ranking is Houston at T3 with 140.7 YPG, and the lowest is Indy at 24th with 94.8. The rest are fairly evenly spaced out at 8th, 17th, 19th, and 23rd. When you take into account YPA, things don't really change much. The rankings are 1st, 2nd, 7th, T18, T25, and T27. Let's look at their game-by-game action. Yes, they didn't allow Arian Foster to run all over them, only allowing 58 yards and a 2.4 YPA. Then again, Schaub was torching them for 497 yards through the air. Every other team eclipsed the century mark against them, and no team was worse than 4.7 YPA. Heck, they gave the Green Bay Slackers, well known for being a terrible running team, a 9.2 YPA, though that's skewed by a 71 yard run by Jackson.
I believe that it's reasonably safe to say that, while the Skins are generally a bad defense, they're worse defending the run than they are the pass.
Mad Mike Martz
Mike Martz has the tendency to overuse what he perceives to be the most talented player in his offense. In St. Louis, it was initially Marshall Faulk, then Kurt Warner. In San Francisco, it was J.T. O'Sullivan. In Detroit, it was Jon Kitna. Right or wrong, he used those players disproportionately more often than he used his other players. This is a pattern he's shown with Chicago as well with Jay Cutler.
The one time he was forced to roll without Jay, he called a disproportionate number of plays for Chester Taylor, who was far less useful on the day than Matt Forte, our supposed Feature Back. He also dialed up a frankly absurd number of passes for a QB who clearly has diminished skills and a lack of vision and threw 4 picks on the day.
He's also shown a general unwillingness to change his play calling. Only twice this season has he made any significant changes to his system that have worked. Once against Dallas, he shortened Cutler's drops to nullify the outside rush of a 3/4 defense. Once against Green Bay, he did something very similar against a very different hybrid 3/4. Every other time, he's shown a remarkable stubbornness to stick to his original gameplan. A very Turner-esque performance, even if it comes on the other side of the football.
Jay Cutler's Health
It's quite clear that Jay Cutler isn't 100% after his concussion(s?) against the Giants. His passes were inaccurate, his vision poor, and his players couldn't understand his play calls, lining up in the wrong spots and forcing early time outs. On at least two occasions, he badly misthrew sure touchdowns. On the forth play, he badly underthrew Devin Hester, and was lucky that it wasn't picked off. In the second half, he badly overthrew Johnny Knox, who had several steps on his defender on a corner route at about the opponent's 10 yard line. There were probably more examples that I'm just not remembering. Plus the constant refusal to check down and take the underneath routes, even when blitzes were coming and a Hot Read would have been wide open.
Let's not forget the common knowledge that one concussion generally leads to more concussions. Jay Cutler has had at least 5 concussions that we know about in his career. With the way the offensive line has been blocking and Jay Cutler's general lack of awareness after his most recent concussion, it could very easily lead to more. This is our franchise quarterback, the best player on our team. We need him 100% healthy for the final 2 months of the season.
Make Jay Cutler the #2 QB for the Bears this weekend. Start Caleb Hanie. The offense has looked more alive under him than under Todd Collins, at the very least. And it will force Mad Mike Martz to utilize his talented running backs more, both in the running game and in the short passing game. It might also lead to Martz calling for more short, quick passes, screens, sweeps, and counters, which are (or should be) general strengths of this team.
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I've had my say on this matter right now. Anybody else want to share their thoughts?