The 2009-10 year was a rough one for Jay Cutler in his debut season as a Chicago Bear. Coming off the 2008-09 season, Cutler was in similar position as Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan as far as 2nd tier quarterbacks knocking on the door of the 1st tier QB's. Though his Bronco teams failed to make the AFC playoffs, experts looked at Cutler's immense talent and gun-slinger mentality, and figured he had what it took to be a winning quarterback. A league- leading 26 interceptions later and those same experts are now among his harshest critics. You had guys like Ron "Jaws" Jaworski breaking down his 26 interceptions and claiming only two of those picks wasn't his fault. Trent Dilfer proclaimed him "a very average player" and Terry Bradshaw flat out said he doesn't like the guy. It was quite a downward spiral for a QB that looked like he was on his way to becoming one of best QB's in the league.
Fast forward to 2010-11 season, and Cutler has made good strides under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz. National and local media predicted that this would be a doomed marriage between Cutler and Martz, and before the bye week it look like those predictions were going to reign true. After the bye week, the two begin to click and fans started to see the best of Jay Cutler. In his 2nd season in Chicago, Jay has gotten the Bears to the playoffs.
What can a strong playoff showing can do for Jay?
For Cutler to get back into the 2nd tier discussion, he has to simply win in the playoffs and look great while doing it. The three guys that Cutler is battling with in that 2nd tier group in my opinion are Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan. Cutler can certainly surpass these three if he is able to lead this team to the Super Bowl. Yes, Rivers and Rodgers put up monster stats during the regular season, but neither guy has taken their team to a Super Bowl. Ryan is in a similar situation as Jay, so I'm sure the Falcons fan base understands the opportunity Ryan has ahead of him. If Jay can do this, national and local media would take notice (at least the ones without an agenda) by taking into account that he went 6-2 in the months of November and December along with leading them to the Super Bowl. This is a golden opportunity for Cutler to gain national and local respect. If he wants to be an elite QB, the road to achieve that status starts January 16th.