CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 20: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears tries to quiet down the crowd against the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field on November 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Chargers 31-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Surprised? No, I didn't think so. Jay Cutler has been at the top of my Most Important Bears list every year I've compiled one. The NFL is a passing league, Cutler is the man doing the passing for the Bears, ergo he's #1. With the addition of #2 on my list, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, many experts are expecting Cutler to take a step near the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. I agree with that sentiment.
I think 2012 will see Jay Cutler have the single greatest season ever by a Bears QB. I think he'll go for over 4000 yards passing, and if he does he'll shoot up to 2nd all time in that category behind Chicago Hall Of Famer Sid Luckman.
I think there's a good chance Cutler will surpass most, if not all, of his career numbers. In his Pro Bowl season of 2008, his last in Denver, he set career high's in attempts (616), completions (384), and yards (4526). He had his best QB rating in the 6 games he played as a rookie (88.5) and his most touchdown passes were throw his first year as a Bear (27).
Now before you discount Bears passing enough to surpass those first three numbers, not with Lovie "Get off the bus running" Smith at the helm, in 2008 the Broncos rushed for 1862 yards as a team and last year the Bears rushed for just 153 more yards that. You could argue that this season Cutler has the most talented offense that he's ever had.
He has Marshall back to be his security blanket. Eddie Royal, who caught 91 balls his rookie year of '08 with Cutler in Denver, isn't a world beater. In fact if you look at the numbers one might say that Cutler elevated his level of play. Royal's best year A.J. (after Jay) was 59 receptions. I think that between Earl Bennett and Devin Hester they could come close to that number, maybe even surpass it. And rookie WR Alshon Jeffery will no doubt be on the field enough to chime in as well. And with the tight end position back in play for Chicago's offense, you have to think that Kellen Davis and company has the skill set come close to the 72 balls Jay's two tight ends caught in the Denver '08 offense.
With defenses having to be concerned with the running back tandem of Matt Forte and Michael Bush, the play action passes should be open more than it was back with the hodgepodge of tailbacks Denver had back in '08.
And don't forget that new offensive coordinator Mike Tice had no problem chucking the ball around when he had Daunte Culpepper quarterbacking and Randy Moss receiving in Minnesota. Tice will play to the strength of his team, and the Cutler to Marshall connection is a hell of a strength.
Even though the Bears fortified their back up QB position, and they should be in better shape if Cutler were to go down, the Bears are a legit Super Bowl contender with Cutler running the show. Without him... well, I don't even want to think about that...
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #10 Shea McClellin
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #9 Stephen Paea
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #8 Matt Forte
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #7 Chris Conte
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #6 Julius Peppers
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #5 J'Marcus Webb
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #4 Mike Tice
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #3 Brian Urlacher
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #2 Brandon Marshall
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #1 Jay Cutler