Seven years and $126 million later … and here we are with Jay Cutler as the incumbent franchise quarterback of the Chicago Bears.
A lot of people are questioning this contract and still think Cutler shouldn’t have even been brought back at all, but I’m here to prove to you that he deserves everything he’s set to earn.
But, just for fun, let’s start with his flaws and get them out of the way. Cutler still makes questionable decisions from time to time — though, they have lessened the past couple seasons — and zeros in on Brandon Marshall a bit too often. Cutler has been injury prone as well; he’s had no serious or recurring injuries thus far in his career, but he’s been banged up for parts of the past few seasons. No. 6 also has only won one of the two playoff games he’s started in his career, and has only been selected to one Pro Bowl — but even that was in a Denver Broncos uniform.
However, despite these short comings, Cutler is still a great quarterback. He’s not perfect, mind you, but his positives far outweigh the negatives.
Cutler has maybe the strongest arm in the NFL. That’s not something to take lightly, and is a commodity many teams in the league savor. He’s also a pretty solid athlete. He can make guys miss in the pocket from time to time and even take off and run for a first down. While he occasionally has a little trouble with accuracy, the vast majority of the time he is on target.
The problem is that many people only look at the flaws, and many consider Josh McCown to be a better quarterback and someone the Bears should have kept over Cutler. While McCown did have more success this year (of course, it was the first stretch of five good games in his entire 11-year career), Cutler was still one of the best quarterbacks in 2013, and his stats back that up.
On the season, he started 11 games (though, he didn’t finish two of them), and his numbers look like this: 2,621 yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, a 63.1 completion percentage and an 89.2 passer rating. While the yards, touchdowns and interceptions are a tough gauge because he really only played about 10 full games this year, the completion percentage and passer rating are in the top half of the league. He had a better completion percentage than notable QBs such as Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford, and was ranked 12th overall. As for his passer rating, it was 13th in the league and better than all of those guys previously mentioned as well.
Now, that all makes him seem like at least a very solid quarterback, but with a little bit more digging, I found that he’s actually better than those numbers say.
Pro Football Focus is a site (which you have to pay for to see, and I did — ugh) that tracks every play of every player and gives you those intricate stats that can really define how talented a player really is. For Cutler, this is where he shines.
We all know Cutler has a big arm and likes to throw it deep, but how accurate is he? He’s actually one of the best deep ball throwers in the game. Among QBs who threw at least 40 passes of 20 yards long or more — Cutler threw 57 — he was the sixth most accurate in the league with a 45.6 accuracy percentage (the only difference between an accuracy and completion percentage is the former accounts for dropped passes that were on target).
Another area Cutler excelled in was throwing while under pressure. During the 2013 season, he was the ninth most accurate quarterback with a 50.8 completion percentage when being pressured all while being one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the league. He was under duress on 39 percent of his dropbacks, the 10th highest rate in the NFL.
That’s why Cutler is worth this contract. Not to mention he fits in perfectly with this offense. He and coach Marc Trestman have a terrific relationship, he has two outstanding deep ball receivers in Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and he’s got a huge playmaking tight end in Martellus Bennett.
See, Cutler doesn’t have to be Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning — and not many can, that’s why there’s only a few in that elite tier — he just needs to be successful with the Bears and win. That’s been tough in his tenure because the team hasn’t been balanced. For years, the defense was stout and the offense was lacking. Now that the offense is finally one of the best in the league, the defense is one of the worst. Let’s give GM Phil Emery this offseason to try and fix that side of the ball, and then we can see where Cutler can take them during at least the next few seasons.