Jay Cutler, in his ninth season in the NFL and sixth in Chicago, remains polarizing both league-wide and among Chicago fans.
He is, without a doubt, a frustrating player.
After showing so much promise last year under Marc Trestman, through seven games this year Cutler is responsible for 10 of the team's 13 turnovers (seven interceptions and three fumbles lost).
Cutler is infuriating to many and, after this long in the league, it is clear he will never be "elite" and he will never stop making awful decisions and boneheaded mistakes. Those cannot be coached out of him, they are just ingrained in his game and fans will always be on the edge of their seats in close games, hoping and praying that every time Cutler drops back he doesn't give up the football.
It's just the way it is.
But that's not to say it's all bad. Cutler is talented and when he's good, he can be really, really good. Despite his shortcomings he is still a top-half of the league quarterback, which is to say that he is good enough to win a Super Bowl.
Sure, Cutler might need more help than say a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in order to reach and win a Super Bowl, but to me he is as good as a Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco and can win a ring with a complete team around him.
This season Jay Cutler is having the best season for a quarterback in the franchise's 84-year history. But, by virtue of the team's record, the eye test and the results of the offense, it is, too, arguably one of the worst, especially when placed in the context of the expectations and the team performance for the 2014 season.
It is, therefore, the Best Worst Season Ever by a Bears quarterback.
Cutler, the mistake-prone, injury-riddled, no-crap-giving quarterback is on pace for the first 4,000-yard season in team history. He's on pace for 32 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He has the highest completion percentage (67.3 percent) and quarterback rating (94.4) of his career. He has a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio (14 to 7). He has the third-highest TD percentage (second if you discount his five-game rookie season) and second-lowest interception percentage of his career.
On their own those are fantastic stats. If I had posted these stats on the blog back in August and said these are Cutler's stats through seven games, what would you have thought their record was? Even without knowing how much better the defense was or which players had been injured and knowing the schedule was tough, I'm guessing most would have said that the team would be 5-2, no worse than 4-3 perhaps, but there would certainly be a lot of hope for the season.
But, unfortunately that's not the case. The team is 3-4 and appears to be listless. They do not have a well-formed offensive identity, they don't appear to have a lot of great leadership, and their coaching staff is a huge question mark after coming into the season with a decent approval rating.
As for Cutler, people are losing faith with every game. There is an ever-growing feeling that the contract extension was a huge mistake. There are some looking forward to two or three seasons from now when the team can dump his contract and start over at QB.
Cutler is on pace for his best season as a Bear. If he stays healthy, it will likely be the greatest statistical season at that position in franchise history.
And yet, if the team misses the playoffs, his mistakes continue to come at crucial points in games and the offense remains middling, it will all be considered a failure. It will be one of the single most disappointing seasons in team history.
Isn't that, in a nutshell just the paradox of Jay Cutler? Simultaneously the best and worst.