My all time favorite Bears’ quarterback is Jay Cutler.
I’ve been accused of being a Cutler apologist, but I’ve also been called a Cutler hater. I understand both sides of the pro-Jay/anti-Jay crowd, and I’ve argued for each one. It’s a fine line, but it’s one I’ve walked in numerous discussions over the years.
Jay Cutler was the most polarizing Chicago Bears’ player that I’ve ever seen. His arm talent was outstanding. He was as tough a quarterback to ever play the game. But, he gave the ball away too often.
In 2009, when the Bears swung the trade to acquire Cutler, fans were split. Some thought the Bears finally had their savior at quarterback. Others though Cutler was a cry baby that whined his way out of Denver. I was a part of the former. I was excited the Bears’ were getting a young signal caller coming off a season in which he threw for 4,526 yards, which was a Denver record at the time.
I expected him to become one of the all time greats, but my expectations changed the more I saw him play. I realized he’d never be Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, but in the right system, he could be good enough. Back in 2014, I wrote that Jay Cutler is what he is (which is one of my favorite articles by the way), a middle of the pack QB, with the arm talent to be much better.
He was at his best when he was a game manager, with a good running game and defense around him. With defensive minded Lovie Smith as his head coach, the Bears were 34 and 22 (.607) in games started by Jay. In the years that followed, when the defense crumbled and had to be rebuilt, Jay’s starts accounted for a 17-29 (.370) record.
Did Cutler regress during that time? Nope, his numbers actually improved, but the team around him was worse. During the Lovie years, Cutler was a 59.6% passer, with an interception percentage of 3.6, and a passer rating of 81.9. During the four years that followed, he completed 64.2% of his passes, his interception percentage was 3.0, and he had an 89 rating.
You may think that his completion percentage went up because he was in the dink and dunk, check down and screen happy Marc Trestman offense, and the more conservative John Fox O, but his yards per attempt was actually higher from 2013-2016, 7.3 to 7.1 during the Lovie years.
The other big difference in those two four year blocks was the sack percentage. From 2009-2012, it was 7.9%, and from 2013-2016 it was 6.3%. Cutler was a better player when he wasn’t getting knocked around all game, but the punishment he took early on, may have affected the latter part of his career.
Jay Cutler brought a lot of his problems on himself, with his belief that he could fit the football into some really tight windows, and his faith in his scrambling ability to keep plays alive. But Cutler did mature through the years, both on the field and off.
I actually appreciated his ‘heart on his sleeve’ interviews after games. There was no sugar coating or canned answers from Jay. If he was pissed, he acted pissed. If he was irritated, he showed it, and that rubbed a lot of fans and members of the media the wrong way. But I liked it. I thought it was refreshing.
As he matured, he learned how to play the press conference game a bit better, but he was still himself.
I hoped the Bears would get it figured out with Cutler under center, but his entire career was plagued by bad timing. Both from him, and also from the general managers tasked with building the Bears.
It was right around the time I wrote that Cutler is what he is, when he started to push ahead of Harbaugh as my favorite Bears’ QB, but when I saw this tweet come across my timeline, it not only made me chuckle...
Had a teammate who genuinely liked Jay tell me this once, "He thinks everybody else is an idiot. That's the baseline he works off."— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) May 5, 2017
.. it also sealed the deal that Cutler was my new favorite Chicago quarterback.
Now it’s your turn, who is your all time favorite Chicago Bears quarterback?