Jay Cutler is the fifth most sacked quarterback in the NFL. This season, he has had to endure 35 sacks, largely in part to the failings of the offensive line - again. So let's be kind and accept that Cutler cannot really control the performance of his line. Yes, he still holds onto the ball too long, but the heavy rotation of players, combined with injuries and poor play has cemented the o-line as the Bears main problem - yet again.
With that being said, let's take a look at some of the things that Cutler can influence, and examine how well he has done this year. Have the Bears been getting their money's worth with Cutler, and should they be rewarding him with a long term, lucrative contract? Let's see.
I think it's fair to say that given the addition of Brandon Marshall, we all thought Cutler would be throwing for a lot more yards than he has. In fact, with two games remaining, he has thrown for just 2,630 yards. That puts him 25th in the league. Players who have thrown more yards include Mark Sanchez, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Russell Wilson. It must be noted that Cutler has already thrown for more yards than he did last season, when his total was just 2,319 (although he did miss quite a few games). My point is this - in today's NFL, you need a quarterback that can put up big yardage. Granted, a lot of it can come down to game plan and the play of the receivers, but throughout his time in Chicago, Cutler's passing yards have always been on the low side.
Linking into total passing yards, is the statistic for yards per game. So far this season, Cutler has average just 202 yards per game, putting him in 26th place amongst QBs. Nick Foles throws for more yards per game, and that is the end of that sentence.
Cutler is tied for 21st place in the league with 17 touchdowns. Doesn't sound too bad on the face of it, but when you consider that Drew Brees has thrown twice as many as that, it kind of puts it in perspective. I think we all would have expected more touchdowns out of Cutler, especially with Marshall on board and the ability that Alshon Jeffery has flashed. Without either of those players in 2009 and 2010, Cutler threw 27 and 23 touchdowns, respectively. He's not going to reach those numbers this year, which for me is a huge disappointment, and the Bears should feel let down by this.
Interceptions have not been too bad, as he has only turned the ball over 14 times. This is a vast improvement on the 26 picks he threw in 2009. Of course, not all interceptions are the quarterback's fault, so I don't think it's necessary to dwell on interceptions too much, unless the number is very high, which in Cutler's case, it's not.
For the final piece of this exercise, let's turn our attention to Jay Cutler's passer rating. I still don't know how the heck they work that thing out, although Wikipedia has had a go of it HERE. The Bears QB currently has an 80.4 passer rating. This has pretty much been par for the course during his time in the windy city, with his best rating coming in 2010 when he finished with an 86.3. Again, you would like that number to be a little higher, but it's not awful. It just leaves him in 22nd place.
All this statistical analysis leaves us with one main question - is Jay Cutler still the answer in Chicago? As much as I come down on him at times, I still firmly believe he his. He just needs so much more.
He deserves better protection from his line; something the Bears have failed to deliver, which is an embarrassment. It looks like he still needs better receivers, or at least a game plan that doesn't force him to rely on Brandon Marshall so much. He needs a better running game. The Bears used to be known for being a run-first team, but that only really works when you can run the ball with any sort of consistency. That has not been the case this year.
The season is not over yet, and the Bears have a shot at making the playoffs. But after starting the year with so much optimism, I am finding it hard to see how thing's will be any different next year. Not unless things change. Jay Cutler has the ability to be a great NFL quarterback, but right now, he is the definition of mediocre. It's just not all his fault.