Do you remember where you were when the Bears traded for Jay Cutler? My guess is most Bear fans checked the calendar to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day.
I was in my car coming home from work and heard it on ESPN Radio. I didn’t believe it at first but hearing confirmation on WSCR The Score made me the most excited I’ve EVER been about Chicago Bears football. I texted my friend about it and his response… “Lol. Yeah right. I wish.” I had to call and and explain that the Bears actually made the most unlikely Bears-move I can recall. We no longer have to be thought of as a ‘run-first team’ or have to hear Lovie Smith say ‘we get off the bus running’. Not to mention everyone’s favorite quote ‘Rex is our quarterback’ (I’m rooting for Rex since we know Matt Schaub will get hurt again in Houston). We’ll miss Orton’s neck beard but not much else and I don’t feel bad for Josh McDaniels who thinks he can mold Orton into the next Matt Cassel. Even if that happened, it may not be a good thing considering Cassel will likely prove out as an overpaid, backup-quality quarterback. It is no revelation that the Bears improved 110% by getting a proven, strong-armed, mobile quarterback but we Bear fans need to be realistic about his true impact on a team that has plenty of questions.
Can his strong arm fix a defense that plays nothing like the 2005 team that drew comparisons to the ’00 Ravens? I say yes… He’ll help keep the offense on the field longer so Briggs, Urlacher and crew can rest more and not get run over in the 4th quarter. Losing games in the 4th quarter has been a consistent issue in recent years and, generally, defenses get gassed if they’re overplayed in the first three quarters. Even with average-at-best receivers like Devin Hester (fast but confused), Earl Bennett (0 catches as a rookie), and Rashied Davis, Cutler will find a way to move the chains. Hester managed to get deep many times last year, but Orton usually found a way to under or over throw him. Cutler will hit him in the hands more often than not and Olsen will become elite as a catcher even if he can’t block very well.
Can his mobility help compensate for an offensive line that is getting alot of praise but could be too old to keep defenders in front of them? Sure… Even though Kruetz is past his prime, Chris Williams is unproven and no one knows how healthy Pace will be, Cutler will help. Grossman couldn’t escape defensive ends; he usually ran backwards. Orton had some escapability but still seemed to lose track of downfield receivers while on the run. I’ve seen tape on Cutler weaving through the pocket with his eyes downfield which shows me true pocket presence. He’ll make this shaky O-Line look better than they really are (see Tony Romo in Dallas last year).
The negative… Cutler is allegedly thin-skinned if he doesn’t get validation by his coaches and teammates. Aside from Urlacher who thinks the Bears are still his team, I don’t think players will have an issue with a quarterback who will help tack on win after win after win. Lovie Smith and Ron Turner will give him all the praise he needs as they’ve never been in charge of a QB with this much talent and future potential. The other downside… he’ll hurt the stats of Robbie Gould who will find himself spending alot more time on the sidelines being ignored by the ‘real’ football players than kicking game winners to 13-10 football games. Enjoy the season because, if nothing else, it’ll be the most entertaining one you’ve seen for quite some time!