I have to admit I’ve had a skeptical eye on Jay Cutler for the last couple of years. I’ve always loved his big arm and fiery style of play. For a long time, I have to admit to a certain amount of abject denial when it comes to the reason behind years of poor decisions linked to his nasty habit for throwing interceptions.
In 2011, you could hug your knees and rock back and talk about how he didn’t have a go-to receiver. In 2012, it sure looked like it was the porous offensive line. In the last two years, the Chicago Bears have addressed both of these concerns by bringing in Cutler’s BFF Brandon Marshall and spending high draft picks on offensive lineman who seems to be learning the pro game quickly.
When the Bears showed Lovie Smith the door and brought in Marc Trestman to play quarterback whisperer on Cutler’s contract year, it was a clear sign that things had to get better or Cutler would go the way of Smith.
On paper, Trestman’s intellectual offense isn’t exactly a perfect fit for Cutler’s gunslinger style. Trestman’s offensive scheme spreads out the defense, creating favorable matchups and single coverage. It is the quarterback’s job to find the best matchup and hit that receiver.
Through the preseason and Week 1, what we saw was Cutler sputtering out on Trestman’s system and forcing the ball to Marshall, sometimes with the kind of great success you expect from an elite receiver. Other times, it led to drive-killing interceptions that called on the defense to avenge.
Going into yesterday’s game, Cutler was on a lot of roster bubbles or sitting out there in fantasy free agent pools. Through the first three quarters, Cutler looked like his old self, throwing picks, making poor choices, getting stripped for a score. It seemed as if he was doomed to not fit into Trestman’s system.
Then in the final drive of the fourth quarter, you could see the light go on. He stopped blindly targeting Marshall and started hitting other targets, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte were the correct reads and he hit them at exactly the right time. Then he capped it off intuitively with the game-winning touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett.
This is the beginning of Cutler taking his first steps to grow into Trestman’s system. With the first bye weeks having a fantasy impact in two weeks, if you’re still in need of a backup quarterback, I would go grab Cutler this week before he has the inevitable big game that puts him on your competition’s radar.