In the past, I have probably passed judgement on Cutler a little too quickly, and some of the criticism I have aimed at him might possibly have been unwarranted. He is the Bears number one quarterback and the consensus is that he is the best passer we have had for many many years, and heaven knows we have had to endure some bad ones,(although this does not include Rex Grossman, as he will forever remain seriously underrated).
With that being said, are those in the pro Cutler camp justified in their position? How good is Cutler, how good can he be, and perhaps more importantly, is he the man to take the Bears all the way.
"We have this franchise-level quarterback here, and I really believe that in Jay. I'm not cautious or afraid of saying it. I see a franchise-level quarterback; a quarterback that can take us to championships,"
Clearly the organization has faith in him as far as being able to win the big games. Cutler got his wish when he was reunited with wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. Rookie Alshon Jeffery looks like he could do good things this year, giving Cutler another big target to throw the ball to. Cutler needs to have a big year, and let's put it this way: if he doesn't manage it this season, will he ever?
I would not class Cutler as one of the league's elite quarterbacks. No one would argue that he is to the level of players like Rodgers, Brady or Brees. But I believe he fits into the next ten or so quarterbacks on that list. He has a strong arm, good leadership qualities and the type of toughness that is needed to succeed in this league.
Let's take a look at some of Cutler's career statistics. Throughout his career, he has never thrown more than 27 touchdowns. This came in 2009, his first season in Chicago. Over his six years in the NFL he has averaged 19.5 touchdowns per year. Compare this to someone like Tom Brady, who has averaged 25 touchdowns over his 12 year career. Granted, there are several factors that can account for these type of statistics, but I think that's why it's useful to look at averages.
Another area which Cutler needs to improve is his touchdown to interception ratio. He has only ever thrown seven more touchdowns than interceptions during his career. And as much as I hate to use a Green Bay Packer as an example, Aaron Rodger's ratio in his four years as a starter has been excellent. Last year alone, he threw 45 touchdowns, and just six interceptions.
I think one of the main reasons a lot of people seem to rave about Jay Cutler as the Bears quarterback is this: He's NOT Rex Grossman. He's NOT Cade McNown. He's NOT Moses Moreno!! There just seems to be a general sense of relief and justification that Chicago finally has one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, after years of struggling to find one.
It's almost as if Cutler's being willed to win. I feel that some people are guilty of elevating him to a status he does not deserve; yet.
With Cutler, over three years, the Bears have been to the playoffs once. He has yet to really prove himself in the post season, which is when it can really matter. Not that this is totally down to him, but until he has some better runs in the playoffs with the Bears, it's difficult to pass a total judgement on him.
His career passer rating of 84.5 sees him sitting behind quarterbacks such as Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford. Again, statistics can always be misleading, but until those type of numbers improve, Cutler will forever embody the definition of mediocre.
As much as I might be accused of such, this article was not intended to be a hit piece on Cutler. I rank him highly in terms of Bears quarterbacks, and I feel he does offer us the best chance of reaching the playoffs and beyond. Like I said, the time for excuses are over. Cutler has it set up perfectly to succeed this year, and if he falls short, perhaps patience will begin to run out for even the most hardcore Cutler supporters.