The Jay Cutler Era: 10 Games In

It’s a short week-I’ll be unable to post on Thursday and Friday with the holiday.  But I have some deep thoughts for once on a couple of issues in the limited time we have this week.

I’m beginning to develop some complex thoughts on Jay Cutler.  They’re not necessarily negative, but I am questioning the whole thing a little more than I’ve done at any point over the seven months he’s been a Chicago Bear.  I’ve given him nothing but unflagging support through the Eagles game, but there’s a little more to it than that.

Bottom line, I still think (hope, pray) that Jay Cutler will end up being the best Chicago Bears quarterback since Sid Luckman when all is said and done.  I believe we have four or five more years to find out (this season has become such a drag I can’t even remember the terms of the deal signed when the Bears were 3-1.)  But at this point, I’m becoming afraid of a few things.  A) Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith, and/or Ron Turner and/or a combination of the three will ruin him in Chicago.  B)  Constant berating by impatient fans that don’t understand the talent around him sucks and contributes to his issues will ruin him.  C)  He’s going to get killed from getting knocked on his ass every play because his offensive line sucks.

I was ecstatic when Jerry Angelo pulled off the trade to land Cutler in April.  I’ll never back down from that.  I thought Cutler would most certainly improve everything around him: the offensive line, receivers and running game.  Up to this point, I was totally, totally wrong.  The offensive line is playing horribly.  I can’t remember a worse line.  Possibly 1993 in Dave Wannstedt’s first year, but probably the pre-Mike Ditka lines of the late 70′s and early 80′s.  This is partly the reason Matt Forte is having a fraudulent sophomore season, but I think Forte himself has regressed terribly.  And while there have been some bright spots with the receiver play, they’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes and don’t generally get separation.

So by thinking that Cutler would magically elevate everyone’s game, I was completely wrong.

We were sold a bill of goods by Angelo, Smith & company (throw Ted Phillips in there while we’re at it) that by adding Cutler, shoring up a couple of positions on the offensive line, adding Rod Marinelli and having his defensive brilliance Smith call the plays was the path to success.  Not necessarily winning the Super Bowl this year, but they had us believing the window was still cracked with the core of talent that is here.  And I bought it, and I was wrong, wrong, wrong to do so.

In the 2007/2008 offseason, I confidently wrote that to match Minnesota’s $42 million offer to Bernard Berrian would be madness, because paying a slightly above average receiver that kind of money without having a quarterback to throw to him would be putting the cart before the horse.  I can’t believe it, but I’m beginning to think that trading away what was given up for Cutler when the rest of the talent on the Bears is marginal and fading was not the right thing to do.  And it’s getting more and more obvious that the complex nature of our quarterback requires some pieces around him rather than being the type to rally poor talent.

But as many say, and I very much agree, Angelo would most likely have squandered the two first rounders given up for Cutler anyway, so it’s a wash.  At this point I have absolutely no confidence that Angelo has the ability to improve the level of talent around the best quarterback the Chicago Bears have had in 50 years.  And we’re stuck with Angelo for another four seasons after this miserable one.  I fear that the fans constantly booing and harassing Cutler are going to break him without understanding it’s not all on the quarterback when he has poor talent all around him.

To sum it up?  Pretty standard year for Chicago Bears fans.

4 Responses to “The Jay Cutler Era: 10 Games In”

  1. One has to wonder if its Angelo’s doing or Lovie’s inability to develop talent, and talent that does show development goes out the door. To me a combo of both. The inability of so many first round picks is glaring and to me that is on Angelo. Thing is we have high expectations for those picks, and lower expectation for the lower round picks that seemingly turn out better. This is where I think coaching comes into it because coaching seems to be able to develop a lower end pick better than a higher end pick. In reality thats just developing everyone the same. A #1 pick wont live up to that expectation, but a 5th round pick exceeds that expectation. I think with a new coaching regime, we would see what can happen with draft development.

    Case in point is several players who showed promise in Chris Harris and Mark Bradley. Bradley suffered injuries in 2005 and 2006, but spent all but the last game of the 2007 season in Lovie’s dog house. Chris Harris spent alot of time there as well, but injuries forced him into the lineup. While Chris Harris isnt exactly a pro bowler on Carolina, I think he would have helped out with our safety issues, and we wouldnt be drafting safety after safety every year.

    Bradley, I think would be a much better receiver now with Jay Cutler, providing he stays healthy. Once Bradley signed with Kansas City last year, he went on to have a great year the rest of the season. This season he isnt as productive, but again, I think with Cutler, Bradley would be an experienced receiver and be much better with Cutler. We could also let go of Rashied Davis.

    Corey Graham to me is that next player. While he’ll never be a pro bowler, to me Graham was our best coverage corner last season (Tillman is best at stripping players of the ball, not necessarily denying them). This year Graham was thought of moving to free safety, but instead Lovie puts his favorite player back in Danieal Manning at that spot due to an injury to Bowman. The whole thing sounded quite fishy to me, and well until the past two weeks due to injuries we hadnt seen Graham this season. Basically he’s been in Lovie’s doghouse.

    Fans ruin many quarterbacks here. I do not remember Jim Harbaugh, but I’m sure you do. He went on to Indianapolis, made a Pro Bowl, and ended his career in a nice way. From reading in your own year-by-year analysis, fans in Chicago ruined Harbaugh due to an audible that I guess his receiver didnt hear him call. Rex Grossman very well may be that next Quarterback.

  2. I think you are spot on in your comments. Once an organization develops a particular persona, good or bad, the only way to fix it is to clean house. The Bears management needs to go or Cutler’s presence in Chicago will be wasted.

    I would somewhat disagree with your assessment of Cutler. He is certainly able to make the players around him better, but only if they are ‘REAL’ players. Think about it. I would bet that not a single receiver on the roster would make any other team (as a receiver)except for maybe Cleveland’s disaster. I have said this before- two of the top four receivers are defensive backs and simply have no clue about route execution and have questionable catching skills. Bennett has some ability but at this point in his career he is a non-factor. Johnny Knox has great potential but like all rookies, he does not always recognize when he is hot and has no real understanding of what to do about it. Olsen is, at best, a bottom ten tight end. His blocking skills may be what keeps him in the lineup, but as I watch him in passing situations he really seems to be lost. He has no real instinct about getting open. He just runs around and holds his hand up for Cutler to see. The backup TE did a nice job on the route in the end zone that he caught for a touchdown. Maybe they should give him a longer look.

    Having said all of that, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady could not make this sad crew better! So I have to give Cutler a pass on that. Further proof is now showing itself in Denver. The offensive team is still pretty much intact. While they had early success in the win/loss column because of their defense, the Broncos offense sucks at this point. They were one of the best offenses in the league last year. The x-factor is Cutler. Orton has done o.k. in ‘managing’ the game, but he will never make the offense run as prodctively a Cutler did. Those offensive players will not be as good under Oton’s leadership as they were under Cutler’s.

    The Bears O-line is a disaster! There is little hope that Cutler (or any other QB) could ever be successful with them protecting him. And to add to the pain, the insistence that the coaching staff has with staying with the scheme they use on offense only adds to the futility. With Cutler constantly in an immediately collapsing pocket, and the terrible receiving corps not able to make route adjustments, there is no hope. I would advocate that they change to a moving pocket. Cutler is at his best on the move and can create passing lanes on his own rather than hoping for the receivers to do it. Contrarians to this method might argue that if the line is not able to just stand up and block someone, that they would likely not be able to create the moving pocket, I would remind them that the line is a failure now, why not at least try something new. Yes, Cutler may get hurt because he will be out on the island by himself many times, but he is likely to be injured using the drop back approach that is in effect now.

    Reference my entry from yesterday. The owners need to man-up and fire the GM and coaching staff. Bring Mike Shanahan in and I guarantee you that he will fix what is broke. He is an excellent coach! He has an existing relationship with Cutler and provided the mentoring that Cutler needed to become an all-pro. He would not look blindly at the weak links on the team and say’ we will go on from here’. If people did not perform, they would be replaced.

    Have a great T-giving Day!

  3. Traffic, I like your posts but DIOS MIO you need your own blog! Thanks for coming here. I still have faith in Cutler, unlike the local professionals that already have labeled him a bust and “ruined” (see today’s Chicago Sun-Times). I would love to see Shanahan in a freaking heartbeat, but unfortunately anyone that thinks we’ll have anything less than another full year of Lovieball is living in Fantasyland. If anyone thinks this year is bad–wait until we see how grotesque 2010 is going to be.

  4. Scott- sorry for being so long winded! I will try to exercise more brevity in the future :-)! I only wish that the Bears problems could be discussed in one sentence! Boy would we all be happy then!

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