In Chicago, Jay Cutler is a man who many people have grown to be huge supporters of, but seemingly just as many still despise that he’s considered their favorite team’s franchise quarterback, making the fact that he signed a seven-year contract this offseason a perpetual nightmare.
However, I’m here to ease the woes of anyone who falls into that latter category of thinking about the Chicago Bears‘ polarizing signal-caller.
And in fact, not only will he not disappoint this year, but he’ll turn in an MVP-worthy performance. Call me crazy, but I have plenty of logic and evidence to back this claim up. No, seriously.
Last year, we saw Cutler take huge steps not only as a player in his ability to run Marc Trestman‘s offense efficiently, but also as a leader. With Brian Urlacher‘s departure, by default the team became Cutler’s. Instead of being his former stubborn and allegedly “selfish” self, Cutler stepped up. Not once last year was he shown sulking on the sideline or shoving one of his linemen or telling off his coach. He was also much more vocal and seen praising teammates, almost like he was happy to be there.
That’s understandable because … well … he should be happy to be in Chicago right now, unlike before. He finally has a great coach in Trestman, a drastically improved offensive line, a physically imposing tight end not named Kellen Davis and perhaps the best receiving duo in the league in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. He’s in a position to succeed, and last year he showed that.
Had Cutler not had those “freak” injuries, as he put it, his development within that system wouldn’t have been stunted at all and we would’ve seen a terrific season from him. And actually, despite missing those five games, we did see Cutler have a pretty great season. His success was overshadowed by Josh McCown‘s aberration of a performance (seriously, he only has 77.5 passer rating in his career, Cutler’s is 84.6), but he still posted strong numbers with a career-high 89.2 passer rating to go along with 2,621 yards, 19 TDs and a 63.1 completion percentage in just 11 games.
Going into his second year in the system, he can only improve, especially since his supporting cast is exactly the same and they can only get better as well.
Of course, one thing people always bring up is his durability. As just mentioned, he missed five games last year, and he’s missed at least one game in four-straight seasons. In 2010, he had a concussion and missed a game, and then had a Grade 2 MCL sprain in the NFC Championship Game. In 2011, he missed six games with a random broken thumb on his throwing hand. In 2012, he missed another game with a concussion, and then last year, he had a torn groin and high-ankle sprain.
Now yes, that is a long list of injuries. However, none of them are recurring other than the two concussions, but those are simply expected from time to time for every player in the NFL, and they also occurred when he had a horrible line in front of him. And if not for the strange groin tear last year that came from a seemingly non-contact play, he probably wouldn’t have missed any games with the way he was being protected. Not to mention, Trestman has raved about Cutler’s fitness and conditioning this offseason, so he should be in the best shape we’ve seen him so far.
So as long as he stays on the field, Cutler should be able to build off his strong 2013 campaign. And with the way his coaches are praising him so far this offseason, there’s no reason to believe he hasn’t started to grasp Trestman’s system fully, and the rest of his offensive teammates should be right in the same boat.
Considering the offense ranked eighth in yards and second in points scored last year, I’d say they’re going to be pretty good again — probably even better. Except this year, Cutler will be the main reason why and he’ll show all of his critics why he was deserving of every last penny in his new contract, and potentially, some hardware after the season.