Week 15 featured a hot topic throughout the league in which could greatly affect the future of the Chicago Bears, specifically the quarterback position. Heading into his first game back after missing a little over a month with a high ankle injury, Jay Cutler was set to start in place of backup Josh McCown who had been on a roll coming in.
Though the Bears came away with a victory, it wasn’t necessarily convincing and it took a fight. Cutler started the game with two picks on just plain bad throws. The first came when he didn’t put the ball high enough in the end zone for Brandon Marshall. The second came on another pass to Marshall; this time it was far over his head.
Sunday was a perfect example of something that Cutler has gotten too used to doing. At times, it seems Marshall is the only target on the field for Cutler. Alshon Jeffery was essentially invisible Sunday, outside of yet another incredible deep touchdown pass. But, for the most part, Cutler looked for Marshall what looked like every single pass play.
The big part of McCown’s success this season has been his ability to execute Marc Trestman’s offense to perfection. Translation? He looks for all of his options and typically chooses the right one. McCown has been a huge factor in Jeffery’s breakout season, giving him the opportunities to make enormous plays because he wasn’t focused on just one guy the entire play.
We’ve given Cutler a pass for years in Chicago. New offensive coordinators almost every year, no offensive line and therefore a multitude of sacks as well as not having the weapons in the passing game. This season, though he’s been hurt, Cutler hasn’t operated the offense as well as he could have when on the field.
Here’s the thing I can’t get over: A 34-year old McCown — who had never been anymore than a career backup at this point, and wasn’t very good when he was a starter — has looked like a sure-fire Pro Bowler under Trestman’s offense. He’s been near flawless. Sure, a couple of bad decisions here and there that may not have come back to bit him, but for the most part McCown has been fantastic.
It came to no surprise when there were reports of some players in the Bears’ locker room being upset about the switch back to Cutler on Sunday. McCown has become as relevant as he’s ever been in his entire professional career, and it’s all thanks to Trestman’s system. The fact of the matter is, Chicago can go next year or even the next two with him under center. In the meantime, drafting a quarterback to develop is the second part of that equation.
Cutler would either have to be paid about $16-$17 million next year with the franchise tag or Chicago would fork over a highly-overpaid contract to keep him there long-term. That’s the general consensus around the organization at the moment, anyway. Chicago has plenty of guys to pay in the offseason and must address the defense. Is keeping Cutler truly worth that sacrifice?
The inconsistency from Cutler throughout his career in Chicago was expected at times, but the fact that he looked so poor in the first half on Sunday proves yet again it has nothing to do with his physical tools. It’s his mental game that’s always been the issue. Bad decisions and poor judgement have led to plenty of fans’ rants and tirades over the last few years, and quite frankly, it’s getting old. Cutler has no more excuses these next two weeks. If he wants a future with the Bears, he better put up.