Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?
Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Doug Farrar

(Note: My apologies for the abridged "Cover-1" this week; I got through most of the Cutler piece just in time for a nasty head cold to whomp me upside the head. Back to normal next week. -- Doug)

It's safe to say that the trade sending Jay Cutler to Chicago hasn't worked out for either the quarterback in question or his new team. After throwing 18 interceptions in all of 2008, Cutler has already tossed 20 through 11 games in 2009. And the Bears, having spent Kyle Orton, two first-round draft picks, and a third-round pick (not to mention the contract extension Cutler signed in October), didn't give up all that scratch for a guy flanked in this week's DYAR rankings by Brady Quinn and Josh Johnson.

After watching Cutler struggle with all manner of issues through his first Chicago season, my original idea was to analyze his footwork and see if mechanical degradation was the key to his sub-par performance. It didn't take long to realize that while Cutler will probably never join the "perfect-plant-and-throw" ranks, his ability to look like a marquee quarterback was pretty far down in the list of problems. The numbers bear that out for the most part; his completion percentage isn't down discernibly from previous years, with one notable exception.

Jay Cutler's Completion Percentage
Year Short Mid Deep Bomb
2009 75% 56% 48% 28%
2008 74% 62% 52% 24%
2007 75% 59% 64% 20%

Where you see the difference is in the manageable deep throws (throws of 16 to 25 yards) that had become a hallmark of Cutler's skill-set -- the big-play ability and downfield arm that made him a very big problem for opposing defenses. The bombs of 25-plus yards or more are generally more about straight line receiver speed and broken coverages unless they're designed plays. (See: Brady to Moss.) What the current Bears don’t show at all is the array of effective route combinations common to all great passing offenses. (See: New Orleans Saints. Then, see them again. Wow.)

I had the opportunity to ask Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's State Farm NFL Matchup where the problem really lies. Cosell believes that Cutler, an idiosyncratic quarterback at best, is falling apart in a system that plays to none of his strengths. "He’s always been a guy that’s struggled with mechanics," Greg said. "He’s never been what you’d call a fundamentally sound quarterback -- he’s never been a guy you’d show an instruction tape of as he drops and throws. I think there are a few fundamental differences between Cutler then and now. In Denver, he was dealing with a better offensive coaching staff, a better scheme, a better offensive line, and better receivers. Which, all of that put together, could camouflage and mask his fundamental deficiencies."

"I think you’re seeing the cumulative effect of a lot of things. One is an offensive line that is probably the worst in pro football. As you play more and more games, and there's more and more pressure, a quarterback who is not naturally mechanically sound, will become worse because no one likes to have people in their face all the time. Very often, when quarterbacks take shots early in games, you see them start to lose their mechanics over the course of a game, get rid of the ball too early, start to play too fast."

Those deep throws going all over the place? "He's waiting for the pressure. He's perceiving the pressure now when it's not there because it’s happened so often, he’s just expecting it to happen. He’s always been a tight window thrower. That’s one of the things that makes him different and that’s an attribute I think you have to have in the NFL, but he needs receivers who are bigger, who are more physical, who attack the football, who can make contested catches -- he doesn’t have one receiver like that in Chicago. And I’m not talking about tight ends, I’m talking about wide receivers. He’s got receivers who are runners. They don’t attack the ball; they don't make contested catches."

“At the end of the day, every single thing that’s going on with Chicago’s offense, and I haven’t even mentioned a running game that is probably also the worst in the NFL, everything is conspiring against Cutler. So now you’ve got a decision to make as an offense. Do you try to play the game to throw four yard passes, three-step drops, five-step drops, just so he doesn’t throw interceptions?"

Is Cutler mechanically fixable? And can the system work around him? "Everybody’s mechanically fixable, it all depends on how hard you want to coach a guy," he said. "That’s the same problem with Tony Romo. He’s mechanically fixable, too, but I don’t know how he's coached because he doesn’t play as if he's being coached. There’s a reason Donovan McNabb is a week-to-week quarterback, and you have no idea what his accuracy is going to be week-to-week. It’s because his mechanics aren’t very good. Of course that's fixable. Mechanics are always fixable. The next question is 'Will it make a difference?.'"

The more I talked to Greg, the more I believed the Bears would have been better off keeping Kyle Orton and the draft picks. Greg assured me that at his root, Cutler has talent that can't be duplicated. "He is probably the best pure thrower in the National Football League. I'm just talking about throwing a football. Even off-balance, there are throws he makes that are just absolutely remarkable."

"Quarterbacks are always the ones who take ... the people who don't like him to begin with, and believe me, there’s a large group of those people -- we know that -- are just going to say that he stinks. He doesn’t stink. He’s an unbelievable talent that needs to be harnessed. Arguably, the two most gifted quarterbacks, in terms of pure, physical gifts, are Roethlisberger and Cutler. No one throws a ball like Cutler. He’s unbelievable."

"Cutler has always been a very accurate guy. You know that he’s not himself by the fact that his accuracy has gone away a little bit. You know there’s something wrong. His interceptions didn't come from inaccuracy; his interceptions came from ill-advised throws."

But what happens to that talent if there's no room for it? Against the Vikings, Cutler came out of the box in a way that told me two things: First, the Bears' coaching staff was setting things up to eliminate risk. Second, anything but dink-and-dunk when you're looking at a Jared Allen-Orlando Pace matchup is just nonsensical. On Cutler's second throw of the game, on second-and-3 from his own 42 with 10:58 left in the first quarter, Allen got around Pace with no resistance whatsoever, and Cutler bailed out to Earl Bennett at the line of scrimmage for a loss of two yards. When Cutler hit tight end Greg Olsen for a three-yard out on third-and-five, Olsen could gain only one more yard after the catch because cornerback Cedric Griffin and linebacker Chad Greenway were playing close in, waiting for the short pass, and knowing that the Bears had admitted defeat in a strategic sense. Three quick passes, and a three-and-out.

It was difficult to know what to make of Cutler's mechanics early on -- the guy's obviously talented enough to complete quick outs -- but I was astonished to see Pace get no help with Allen on any of those plays. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner managed to combine the protection leakage of wide sets with the inflexible non-production of a quick-screen-only offense. It was mind-blowing.

On the next drive, Cutler's job was to hand off three times to Matt Forte, which got the Bears another three-and-out for their trouble. In my quest to analyze Cutler's footwork on even medium-length passes, I had to skip forward to the second quarter, when the Bears put together their first productive drive starting at the 14:46 mark. A 44-yard kickoff return by Danieal Manning set the Bears up at their own 46. After four quick passes and an incompletion in which I thought Cutler was going to go all "Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI" and get sacked for a 29-yard loss, he finally hooked up with speed demon Johnny Knox on what seems to be the one repeatable deep throw in the Chicago playbook: Knox on a straight go to a little end zone fade, burning past the cornerback in tight coverage, as Cutler drops back and heaves the ball downfield off a back-foot plant. That’s how Chicago got a 24-yard touchdown with 12:17 left in the first half. When you're facing a line like Minnesota's, and you have no protection, your only hope is that your deep receiver is faster to the completion of his route than Jared Allen is in knocking your head off. That's a dangerous game to play with an asset you gave up so much to get.

The next deep pass of any note came with 2:51 left in the first half, and here's where it all came to a head: an interception sparked by terrible footwork. Cutler had Knox on the left side this time, with Griffin covering him tight again, and Knox veered to the edge of the end zone as he had on the touchdown. When Cutler released the ball, his left shoulder hadn't opened up yet. Instead of either throwing off his back foot (which he's still better at then anyone I've ever seen) or planting and using forward momentum to drive his throw, Cutler was just alternating from his right to his left foot in a little shuffle. It was almost as if he was trying to take a little off the throw to place it in Knox's vicinity, but the ball was pretty severely underthrown, and Griffin just hung back for the pick.

This was the play that made me decide to write about Cutler this week -- for all the unusual aspects to his throwing motion when he was bringing it in Denver, I have never seen him so indecisive (or, as Greg might say, he's never played so fast). That's the word that comes to mind when I watch Jay Cutler now, and while I have no clue what's going on in his head, the tentative throws I'm seeing indicate a shell-shocked player in a situation that doesn't work for him at all.


171 comments, Last at 05 Dec 2009, 3:48pm

1 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner managed to combine the protection leakage of wide sets with the inflexible non-production of a quick-screen-only offense. It was mind-blowing.

As Bill Simmons would say: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Chicago Bears!

Of course, it was also your 2008 Chicago Bears, your 2007 Chicago Bears, your 2006 Chicago Bears....

2 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Angelo has created a mess of titanic proportions. The Bears, in 2009, have given up a serviceable qb (at least), two first round picks, a third round pick, and a 2nd round pick, to get a talented but unstable qb who is getting the feces kicked out of him behind a horrible offensive line, and Gaines Adams. He has done this in
the face of an oncoming free agent and CBA environment in which there may well be less significant talent on the market than in years past, meaning the draft will be more important than ever. This is Millenesque.

59 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

So doesn't it stand to reason that if they're willing to invest so much in Cutler, they would be willing to adjust their offensive system to play to his strengths?

It bothers me every time a coach tries to push "his system" on his players, rather then figuring out what his players can do, and designing a system around that. Would you rather be called a mastermind and have everyone think you're brilliant, or would you rather win football games?

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

60 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Totally agree. Here's another thought: in today's win or gtfo mentality in the NFL maybe you've got a better shot at molding the system to your players than you do installing your system and surviving long enough to acquire/draft all the players you need to make said system work.

67 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Agree with your statement but I remember reading a recent Ross Tucker mailbag that was kind of eye opening about the much ballyhooed "halftime adjustments". Now it was from a player's perspective, so maybe the coaches are all conferencing somewhere scheming madly, but he basically said from what he experienced all you had time to do at halftime was drink some Gatorade and take a shit, if necessary.

Anyway, any fan of any team will be able to come up with examples of their coach not adjusting strategies that obviously weren't working (Pats in the 2007 SB for instance... I still don't want to talk about it) so maybe it's a lot more difficult than we think.

112 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I have read that half time adjustments don't really make much difference a few times. Bill Walsh was fairly blunt about it in a seminar I saw some notes from in which he basically said that the vast majority of coaching that goes on happens mid-week and half time adjustments basically involve correcting a couple of minor assignment issues and a pep talk.

I suspect that the vast majority of 'great half time adjustments' actually involve a raft of opponents getting injured but that doesn't seem as dynamic to the talking heads.

140 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I fully agree about how you are characterizing half-time adjustments as far as players go. There just isn't enough time to do anything worthwhile.
I was more talking about play-callers going over the game charts to see what works and what doesn't and calling more plays that are similar to the 'what works' pile and less from the 'what doesn't' pile.
For example; in the Vikings/Bears game multiple members of the Vikings organization (both players and coaches) said that the Bears defense spent the entire game focusing on stopping the run. So, #4 had one of his best passing days ever. That is the type of adjustment I was referring to. Also, it shouldn't take half-time to figure that out.

142 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Yeah, I mean I always figured those adjustments are part of the natural process of calling plays. I mean, even in Madden you realize pretty quickly "hey, these outside runs aren't working", or "they're getting tons of pressure, I'd better call some slants and screens" and naturally adjust. I figure at halftime you maybe take a second to look at some photographs more closely, figure out exactly why what isn't working isn't working and maybe try to attack it.

3 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I'm a big Cutler fan, from his days at Vandy. Being a Chiefs fan, it really hurt seeing him go to Denver. I'm in a minority in my opinion here, but I still think the Bears got the better end of the deal. Where would they be if they didn't make that trade? They'd still have a slumping, injury-riddled defense. Their O-Line would still be horrendous. Their running game would be non-existent. And their receivers would still be, as the article points out, runners. Would Orton throw fewer INT's? No doubt in my mind, but the Bears would also not be in nearly every game. And in the off-season they'd be looking for a QB, again. Every terrible team wishes they had that franchise QB (hello, I'm a Chiefs fan), and the Bears now have one. This season has pretty much went like I thought it would for Cutler and the Bears (except I thought they be at about 6 wins now, not 4), a decent start followed by a swoon, too many INT's, and the calls that Cutler isn't a winner. I saw this coming as a Cutler believer, why is it suprising to everyone else?

6 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Without the trade they would have Orton, and two first round picks, along with a third, with which to obtain competent offensive linemen over the next 28 months. Instead, they will have to rely on a single 2nd round pick (since they gave up a 2nd to get Gaines Adams), a 3rd round pick, and 2nd day picks, to obtain said linemen. Cutler may get concussed out of the league before he gets the team he needs to surround him.

171 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Forget outplaying Orton. For what the Bears gave up to get Cutler and the subsequent contract extension, Cutler needs to outplay Favre and Rodgers for the Bears to have playoff hopes. Last year, the Bears had the second best QB in the division; this year, they have the third. It may well stay that way until Favre actually retires.

41 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Disagree here -
The irony is that Angelo recently said (last 1-2 mos) that the three biggest needs for the Bears are:
Right DE - not left with Goon 32 and a FA at the end of this season, but RDE where Alex Brown is clearly the most consistent defensive lineman
FS - Duh.
WLB - yes, weakside LB which is currently occupied by Lance Briggs, the only other blue-chip player on the entire squad after Jay Cutler.

There's no guarantee that Angelo would not have squandered those picks on athletic projects with no real football skills.

70 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Well said.

Before the trade, the two things (most) Bears fans were screaming for in the draft were a FS and a WR. And, given everything, I think that's what you would have seen the Bears do if they had those picks.

Jerry Angelo just doesn't spend high draft picks on Offensive Linemen. Since 2003 he's only spent 1 pick in rounds 1-3 on an OL (Chris Williams last year). He instead seems to prefer picking up other team's veterans (Rueben Brown, John Tait, Roberto Garza, Orlando Pace, Frank Omiyale), rather than building from within. I get the impression that he thinks it's more economical to just get guys at that state than young through the draft, but I don't particularly like it. Even when they're good the Bears OL has never had adequate depth, and is usually one injury away from total disaster.

55 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Here in Chicago, the giving up of the two first rounders wasn't really disputed, but this is entirely because Angelo's first round picks are generally poor. There was far more uproar over the Adams trade.
I would argue that it is not entirely unheard of to build an O-line out of second day draft players. Angelo cannot do it, but it's not unheard of.

57 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I haven't quantified it, but it would be instructive to look at the last fifty tackles, guards, and centers drafted on day two, and get a % of those who became productive starters. I'd guess the hit rate on centers is non-trivially higher than that of tackles and guards.

4 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

So the gist of it is that Cutler has a great deal of talent, but enough flaws that the system and surrounding personnel HAS to be designed to hide the flaws and augment the talent, or he will fail miserably. And the Bears have neither--hence he is failing miserably.

It seems like the Bears could still make the situation work, but only by a complete revamp of their offense (and maybe replacing Ron Turner?).

It also makes me wonder how much more successful Denver could have been this season if Bowlen hadn't driven Cutler out of town. Josh McDaniels may lack some people skills, but one thing he is masterful at is designing offensive schemes to take advantage of the talent he has, and calling plays to augment that talent and hide flaws. From the Denver games I've watched, Orton has seemed serviceable, but his weakness seems to be what Cutler supposedly excels at...hitting the 15-25 yard deep outs and crossing patterns and making the secondary respect the medium-deep passing game.

7 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

So in essence, by picking a fight with Cutler and running him out of town, Josh McDaniels destroyed his own team for 2009 and the Bears for the future. With their vastly improved defense and skilled offensive players, Denver with a franchise quarterback might be in the same discussion as Indy in a weak AFC (yes, they're still a good team with Orton, who won't lose you any winnable games, but he also won't win any games for you either). And Chicago now has the first-class quarterback they never had and have surrounded him with nothing, and doesn't even have the resources to fix their problems (and where do you start, really? OL? WR? The defense?) because they traded them for the QB.

Of course, defensive injuries have been part of the Bears' problems as well, but that SF loss, especially, shows just how deep the damage has gone. They weren't going to win the Arizona or Minnesota games with Orton, Cutler, or Tom Brady at QB, but even when the defense shows up for a change they're still not in good shape.

71 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Fixing the OL should be the first, second, and third priority for the Bears this offseason. I have no idea if it will be, but it should. The rest of the talent on offense is good enough that an average OL would turn it into a fairly effective unit. Upgrading the rest of the offense isn't nearly as important; the WRs aren't great, but effective enough, and the TEs help compensate a bit for that. A backup RB is needed as well, but I think Forte is still talented. And I think Cutler still has the ability to be good.

The only area that I think NEEDS new players is the OL.

78 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

"So the gist of it is that Cutler has a great deal of talent, but enough flaws that the system and surrounding personnel HAS to be designed to hide the flaws and augment the talent, or he will fail miserably. And the Bears have neither--hence he is failing miserably."

I don't think its that severe, and living in chicago, I've seen a lot of cutler.

I think, in about 25 of the offenses in the league, Cutler would put up great numbers.

Unfortunately, hes in one of the other 7. The bears wouldn't be able to punt succesfully with Robo Punter behind that line

You know how bad the Patriots line looked after Neal got hurt monday night? Thats better than I've seen the bears play all year.

110 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Josh McDaniels may lack some people skills, but one thing he is masterful at is designing offensive schemes to take advantage of the talent he has

. . . so long as that talent includes Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, etc. In Denver, McDaniels has not customized the scheme to his personnel; he has stubbornly clung to what worked in New England. Last year, the Broncos had a very good running game despite cycling through more running backs than rolls of tape. This year, despite a better cadre of running backs (though not a superlative group, by any stretch), the Broncos have a thoroughly mediocre running game. Why? Because McDaniels has virtually abandoned the zone-blocking approach that plays to the strength of his O-line and relied almost exclusively on a man/trap approach that this line was not built for.

Look, I know you have huge man-love for McDaniels, and McDaniels does have some positive attributes as a coach. But to suggest that humility and flexibility are among them is just silly.

126 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

The biggest problem with Jay Cuttler is that he is not on the same team as players like Brandon Marshall and E. Royal. If Denver still had Jay, the Broncos would be 10-1 and possibly 11-0. The owner of the Broncos has clearly demonstrated what ignorance can do to produce a bunch of losers. The losers in this case are Jay Cutler, Mike Shanahan, the Denver Broncos, the city of Denver, and the Bronco fans. I don't believe that Denver will be in the playoffs this year, because Jay is not there.--David

8 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

It sounds like the plan for the Bears offense should be:

1) try out some new players this year - Williams at LT, Shaffer at RT, Aromashodu as the big WR - to see if they have pieces that could work for the future
2) get a new OC next year, and possibly a new head coach, to build an offense that fits Cutler's abilities
3) try to find new players to fill their holes

62 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

What are you basing that on? Cleveland did overpay him, thinking mistakenly that he'd be a good LT, but he seems like he's been a decent RT. ALY in his direction over his career look pretty good, and Pro Football Focus has him as around average in Cleveland in 2007 & 2008 (slightly above average in '07 and slightly below in '08). Bears fans would be thrilled to have an average offensive line next year.

73 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I wonder about a new coordinator. Or more so, I wonder how much Ron Turner has to do with the ineffectiveness and predictability of the offense, and how much that could change with a new OC.

I mean, he's not the guy out there saying "We get off the bus running" and such. How much does Lovie's influence shape the offense?

81 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I'm generally a coach apologist, but I've finally turned on Turner (and Lovie, but I'll discuss Turner here).

Turner just doesn't seem to be able to tailor an offense to his quarterback's strength's; rather, when he lucks into the right QB, he's fine.

He loves timing routes. The Bears run a lot of slants, hitches, and streaks/double moves. He runs very few square-ins, digs, or hooks, it seems. My cousin, brother, and I were moaning about the fact that when other teams have broken plays, the QB will dance around and eventually find a receiver standing in the middle of the field, and make something of it. Think Romo's winning touchdown pass against the Redskins, or nearly any big play the Steelers have.

However, it never seems to happen for the Bears. When Cutler is able to sidestep the rush, the receivers never seem to be open. Part of this is the pedestrian receiving corps, but moreso, it's the playcalling.

The same features magnified Grossman's flaws a few years ago. Rex couldn't throw a slant to save his life, yet Turner kept calling plays where slants were the primary reads. Cutler's more accurate, and his strengths are his athleticism and arm strength; let the receivers run longer routes, where they have a chance to get more separation, and Cutler will shine.

9 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I'm going to go ahead and postulate that Cutler's biggest problem is that he's not as talented a passer as he thinks he is. He seems to imagine himself a late 90s model Brett Favre, when he's probably closer to a mid 00s model Drew Bledsoe.

Is he good enough to win with? Probably.
Is he ever going to be a top-8 QB in the NFL? I would be shocked.

17 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Your suggestion directly contradicts what Cosell says in the article:

"[Cutler]'s an unbelievable talent that needs to be harnessed. Arguably, the two most gifted quarterbacks, in terms of pure, physical gifts, are Roethlisberger and Cutler. No one throws a ball like Cutler. He's unbelievable."

Excuse me if I believe Cosell, who probably breaks down more NFL game film than anyone not currently working for a franchise.

21 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Again, having "pure physical gifts" does not translate into being an elite NFL QB. Jeff George would have a bust in Canton were it so. Cosell even went as far as to clarify "I'm just talking about throwing a football". BFD. If you continually throw it beautifully where you shouldn't, you're not a good quarterback.

24 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

You said:

"I'm going to go ahead and postulate that Cutler's biggest problem is that he's not as talented a passer as he thinks he is."

Cosell said that he is the most talented quarterback in the league. Just how great does Cutler think his physical gifts are, if he overrates them despite being the most talented quarterback in the league?

28 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

In terms of arm strength and the ability to get of throws from all angles, I won't contradict Cosell.

I was coming from the direction of his making bad decisions by thinking he has the talent to fit the ball into the smallest of windows when a very bad outcome is much more likely.

Perhaps I could have stated more eloquently originally.

Cutler - arm strength = very good. Decision making and accuracy = not so good. Fair enough? That was where I was going with "not as talented a passer as he thinks he is".

38 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Cosell also praises Cutler's accuracy.

So really, the issue is his decision-making ability, not his talent. That's pretty much the exact opposite of what you asserted, that he's "not as talented" as he thinks he is. He most certainly is extremely talented, he's just a below-average decision-maker at this time.

103 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Why is accuracy a talent but not decision making? Red muscles talent, white mushy stuff ability?
Cutler is not a below-avarege decision maker. He is god-awful. The guy is an idiot when it comes to making good decisions about where to throw the football.
Come to think of it, I think he is an idiot, period. He did not appreciate how the offensive line, coaches and receivers contributed to his success at Denver.

117 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Decision making is something you can get better at. Accuracy, not so much.

Before this year, no one was saying Cutler was an idiot decision maker. No one was calling him an idiot, except Phillip Rivers fans.

If that's the extent of your thought on the matter, to call the guy an idiot, I wish you'd go back to Fox Sports where you belong.

143 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I really wonder why football coaches think that they can 'coach up' accuracy. When a pitcher loses his placement, baseball coaches give it like six months then they toss they guy into the middle-relief pile. Football coaches spend years trying to get the QB better. See Vick and Russell.

145 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I kind of don't get this... If accuracy to a certain extent is a result of good mechanics (in that bad mechanics will make throws which would have been accurate inaccurate [see: Donovan McNabb as Cosell points out]) can't you affect a positive change on a QB's long term accuracy assuming his mechanics aren't perfect? I mean, clearly you're not going to make Brady significantly more accurate because his mechanics (at least before this year) are stellar... but with someone like Cutler couldn't you feasibly take them from 62-3% up to 65-66% just by fixing their mechanics? I feel like if it were me I wouldn't mess with people's throwing motions as long as they're having some success with it (hello Phillip Rivers!) but stuff like footwork and squaring shoulders, absolutely.

147 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

You can teach footwork and squaring shoulders in a vacuum, but the problem comes more from the fact that few quarterbacks get to exhibit the 'textbook' mechanics due to either the pressure or the design of the play. I would posit (and I am certainly no sports physician) that it seems more like accuracy is more akin to a hardware issue. Like speed. Sure, there are things to aid the situation, but they are closer to negligible than they are to consequential.

That much said, if the QB has time to set up and still has bad mechanics, then yes, that should most certainly be able to be fixed because that is closer to decision making than accuracy.

160 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

You can get better at accuracy. There is a limit that your body will impose on you on how accurate you can get.
You can get better at decision making. There is a limit that your brain will limit you on how good you will become.

A lot of people were saying that Cutler was making lots of dangerous throws when he was in Denver. Now that his receivers are not as good, those dangerous throws became idiot throws.

Classy guy you are telling me where I belong. You must be the lord of the internets, keeper of the gates. I have feeling that you are not even as smart as Cutler.

12 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Well, I expected Cutler to be better, mostly because I thought there was no way Angelo would go into this year with an offensive line this bad, so I figured he knew something I did not regarding his personnel. Having said that, Bledsoe's greatest weakness as a qb was ridiculous immobility, which is a fault that makes it a lot easier for opposing d-coordinators to stunt an offense into submission. Cutler has his faults, obviously, but that isn't one of them.

14 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I was simply referring to his belief that he could reliably beat teams on the strength of his right arm. Favre could at one time. So could Bledsoe. Then time passed. Favre adjusted (somewhat), Bledsoe never could.

As a Patriots fan, I'd say Bledsoe's bigger weakness was his refusal to take what the defense was giving him. And his refusal to adhere to a game plan.

13 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Was he? I don't know where DVOA rated him last year, but I'd put Cutler behind (in no particular order) Brady, Manning, Brees, Rivers, McNabb, Palmer, a healthy Hasselbeck, Favre, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Warner, and the other Manning without hesitation.

And maybe Schaub, Orton, Ryan, Flacco, Garrard, Romo.

I maintain that throwing a football great distances does not a great, or even very good, QB make. See Boller, Kyle or Russell, Jamarcus.

31 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

No, by definition your opinion cannot be wrong, since it's what you believe. It helps to have evidence in your favor, but if I say that in my opinion Broccoli is far superior to Cauliflower, or the Ram better than the Silverado, it seems unreasonable to be held accountable for quantifying that.

29 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Right now, today?

I'd take Jay Cutler in the right system over Hasselbeck, Warner, Manning, Schaub, Orton, Garrard no questions asked.

I mean, Warner's 38 for Chrissakes. Schaub "can't win" either. Hasselbeck is sort of washed up. Orton won't win you any games even if he won't lose you any and as far as I can tell Garrard has had exactly one year where he's performed quite well and he threw a massive 18 TDs. The only reason anyone even noticed is cause he threw 3 picks, then immediately regressed to the mean.

33 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Sure, but what's the right system? Great offensive line, good running game, and a pair of very good wide receivers? Most QBs good enough to be in the NFL will thrive in those conditions.

And I'm not talking to build a team around for the next 5-10 years. I was asking who is the better quarterback at this point in time. I've got nothing against Cutler, he's clearly starting QB caliber. I don't think we'll be talking about him as an elite QB in the league...although I guess some people already so, so I guess I'm already wrong. Anyway, he presumably has his best years ahead of him, if he can hold on to a job.

And I think I've monopolized this thread as much as I care to.

36 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Well if you're not thinking long term right now we've certainly got 3 HOF QBs playing (Brady, Manning, Favre) another who's right on the cusp (Warner) and one more who I fully expect will be in consideration in 5 years time barring injury (Roethlisberger). So that really only leaves 3 spots which in of itself is pretty remarkable. But anyhoo, moving along.

72 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

You can't call Cutler even a Tier-Two starter. I could name 20 guys in the NFL I'd start over Cutler, and 15 guys I'd trade him for in a heartbeat. He's never been the best QB in his division, or particularly close to the best QB in his division; this year, he's not even #2.

74 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I could name 20 guys in the NFL I'd start over Cutler


edit: man I can't wait for this... this is a guy who threw for OVER FOUR AND A HALF THOUSAND YARDS last year and who virtually everyone asked thinks is one of, if not the, most physically gifted QBs in the NFL.

Lets see that 20.

108 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

OK, how about this:

In the last decade, Denver's averaging passing offense DVOA has been 23.4%, with Griese, Plummer, Cutler, and Orton under center. The average passing offense DVOA in the Cutler years was 20.2%...worse than average.

In the last decade, Chicago's average passing offense DVOA has been -13.5%, during which period the QBs who have thrown >100 passers in a season have been Cutler, Orton, Grossman, Crenzel, Quinn, Miller, Chandler, Stewart, Matthews, and McNown. The offensive passing DVOA this year with Cutler has been -13.4%...indistinguishable from the average of the last decade.

If Cutler really were "all that", wouldn't we expect to see a noticeable outperformance of his teams' passing offense efficiency relative to those of what is, in aggregate, a mediocre at best collection of other DEN and CHI quarterbacks?

27 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I don't utterly totally disagree with your general argument here (just somewhat) but comparing Cutler to Kyle Boller or Jamarcus Russell cause all three of them have good arms is squinting A LOT. Cutler's skill set goes way beyond just being able to chuck it 65 yards.

He's mobile. He can bootleg. His release is quick. He throws well off his back foot. He has been quite accurate over the course of his career (three overthrows on national TV last week do not a trend make). He can throw with touch. He can run the screen game. AND he can throw it 65 yards in the air.

Comparing him to Jamarcus Russel is really denying at least 4/5ths of his skill set. Someday, in some alternate universe where Jamarcus completes 62.3% of his passes for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns in a year the comparison will be fair. Right now it is not.

15 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

You might be missing a few major points about the CBA. You mentioned less-significant talent on the market, and the draft being more important, but did not mention the fact that the NFL could be heading towards an un-capped year. Given the economic state right now, certain teams are hesitant to pay for the elite talent in the draft given the rate of busts. Without a salary cap, a team could make a crazy offer to a guy like Tim Tebow, or really any of the high first rounders. The Bears are notoriously cheap, so it's unlikely they would have the money to go after these players anyway if that was the case.
Obviously, this is all assuming that the CBA gets screwed up and the season is un-capped. Should that be the case, Angelo might look pretty smart consider he dealt for (and signed) a franchise quarterback, and addressed a need a DE without having to pay a significant amount of money. Yes, the Bears have problems elsewhere, but that's not bad.
Once again, this strategy only looks really good if the un-capped season happens.

35 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Chris, whatever happens, the Bears are going to need to get some talent on the offensive line, because it makes no sense to pay for a franchise qb, so he can get pounded. If the uncapped year occurs, there is not going to be as much free agent talent available, since the years of service required for free agency goes up. The owners can keep the rookie salary pool if they want to, and they have yet to decide that, I think. Whether they keep it or not, however, the Bears are going to have a lot fewer draft picks to obtain such linemen, and the picks they do have are predominantley late round choices, where picking up quality o-linemen becomes somewhat of a longshot, especially for non-centers. There's a pretty good chance that the heirs of Geroge Halas are going to pay a lot of money for Cutler to get beaten up, while hoping that Gaines Adams lives up to his collegiate reputation. Sometimes bad poker players luck into a good hand, but that doesn't mean that they are skilled.

19 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

What's wrong with Jay Cutler?

He wears his helmet pulled so far down he can't see downfield.

an offensive line that is probably the worst in pro football

Jason Campbell would disagree.

"Everybody’s mechanically fixable, it all depends on how hard you want to coach a guy," Cosell then goes on to list a bunch of guys who are supposedly "mechanically fixable" (aside: does that mean that there's some kind mechanism we could design to "fix" these guys?) but haven't improved their mechanics.

Um, doesn't this line of argument and the evidence actually suggest that the notion of "mechanically fixable" is a red herring, at least absent some really good evidence of QBs who, you know, actually improved their mechanics?

"He is probably the best pure thrower in the National Football League. I'm just talking about throwing a football. Even off-balance, there are throws he makes that are just absolutely remarkable."

Wait, why's he talking about Jeff George all of a sudden?

he needs receivers who are bigger, who are more physical, who attack the football, who can make contested catches

Interesting concept. Does this suggest that FO's lack of luv for Brandon Marshall might be a poor assessment?

All in all, interesting article.

20 Re: Cutler anomaly

It's funny, because when you look at this year's quarterback DYAR and DVOA, the order is almost exactly what you'd intuitively expect. Look at the top ten: how many of those names make you want to scream "fluke"? Next comes the group of solid and/or inexperienced QBs, your Rodgers and Flacco, Eli and Garrard; followed by the fading veterans (Bulger, Hasselbeck) and comme-ci-comme-ça types (Campbell, Alex Smith); and then the career backups and overmatched rookies; and finally the NFL's gifts to comedy, JaMarcus and D.A.

Just about the only QB that looks out of place is Jay Cutler. (Maybe Matt Cassel, if last season made you a believer.)

In a season with hardly any QB surprises (Vince Young?), where even Brett Favre has been consistent, Cutler really truly stands out.

26 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

First off, everyone who is talking about "Orton not winning you any games" needs to go watch the NE game. He beat NE. Not marshall breaking tackles or the defense. 4th quarter Orton won that game.

Second, the piece many dont realize is that Cutler is a headcase. I think more than anything, that is what got him out of Denver. Hes a diabetic who is a boarderline alcoholic. He showed zero leadership and managed to alienate most of his teamates.

All the talent in the world wont cover up for that.

Maybe everyone was a little quick to judge Cutler as the next great qb. Maybe more credit should go to Clady and Company on the offensive line, and Marshall and company as the recievers.

37 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Wick, you touch on something that I have only mentioned once, and then briefly, because I didn't get it from a reliable source. Do you have a reliable source for the assertion that Cutler is drinking booze in more than minimal amounts? If so, that is a huge red flag, given his diabetes. I would hope that Angelo would have checked that out thoroughly, and if the Broncos knew it was true, then trading him before this season makes a helluva lot of sense.

39 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Quite simply, unless you know someone intimately (like very, very good friends) there is no way of telling that they are a "borderline alcoholic". I mean how many times do you have to see someone at a bar, clearly plastered, in a single year before you can make this assessment? 50 times? That's still less than once a week. That's not alcoholic territory (not saying it's a good idea if you're a diabetic).

I mean, this just screams VY shirtless tequila picture / Lineart beer bong gross exaggeration to me.

45 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I wouldn't guarantee millions of dollars to any diabetic athlete who I knew was drinking booze in anything but very small amounts, and then very infrequently. Yeah, some diabetics get away with it, but it is indicative of a guy who isn't taking a professional approach to getting paid millions of dollars. If this is nothing but a rumor about Cutler getting liqoured up sometimes, of course, then the people who started it have done something reprehensible.

47 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I wouldn't guarantee millions of dollars to any diabetic athlete who I knew was drinking booze in anything but very small amounts, and then very infrequently.

Agree. Regardless, what you've just described comes absolutely nowhere close to "borderline alcoholic". Borderline alcoholic is getting shit hammered three times a week, drinking every single day, drinking alone, etc.

Anyway, I just feel like this whole thing is because some people saw him a few times at some clubs in Chicago during the off season right after he got traded and it has somehow ballooned to the point where people are passing it off as common knowledge that he drives around with a fifth hidden in his glove box.

51 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Yeah, like I said I don't know the truth of it, and I wouldn't even take your firm definition of alcoholism, because I don't think an empirically precise definition of what we call "alcoholism" exists. I just know diabetics really should avoid drinking alcohol, and I'd thoroughly look into a rumour of a diabetic pro athlete drinking frequently, prior to giving him a pile of cash.

52 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

"I wouldn't guarantee millions of dollars to any diabetic athlete who I knew was drinking booze in anything but very small amounts, and then very infrequently."

Is there any evidence that the diabetes/drinking combination is relevant at all, here? At least any more than they would be individually?

I've known diabetics who will go out drinking every weekend; when I've asked how it affects them with regards to the disease, they've always responded that drinking isn't particularly bad, provided you're monitoring your blood sugar levels. And if you're not watching that, it doesn't matter if you drink a lot; you'll never become a high-level athlete.

61 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Yes, a lot of diabetics can get away with drinking. A lot don't, and a diabetic's ability to manage the disease while drinking is not a constant; what you are able to tolerate today, via otherwise effective management, may not be the case tomorrow, for a lot of reasons, including the fact that alcohol does not have a constant effect on other behaviors. I would not make a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment to a diabetic athlete who frequently drank booze.

122 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I don't know what the time frames were in that situation, and the Packers did not first sacrifice a mountain of draft value, and a serviceable qb, for the right to offer Favre an extension. Yep, talent trumps all, but a diabetic with a whisky habit is exposing his talent to significant danger.

42 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

This article really seems to be the same line that you always hear about Cutler. It's not him it's something else, and to be fair I followed that line for a pretty long time and I've defended Cutler like you wouldn't believe.

But I'm done with that now. In this article Doug says that Cutler is behind one of the worst lines in football, but this site also ranks them 11th in pass protection. There's a big discrepancy somewhere.

As a matter of fact as of Nov. 29th Cutler had been hit less than all the other QB's in the NFC north. Dan Pompeii who pointed this stat out came to this conclusion, "So if Cutler's performance has been inordinately affected by pressure, it may have more to do with Cutler than his blockers.",0,4217593.column

Sure Cutler's been under a lot of pressure but the reality is he just hasn't responded well. Sure he doesn't look like he's getting coached but is that because his coaches are bad or because he's not listening? I don't know what the answer is and it's probably a mix of both, but I'm glad he's not Denver's problem anymore.

46 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

One discrepancy lies in taking the stats here as something that necessarily measures the quality of the pass protection. For instance, some folks here in the past have said that the Vikings gave Culpepper terrible protection 2004, based on adjusted sacks. Nothing could have been further from the truth; Culpepper just took forever to throw the ball.

66 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Of course it is FO who uses adjusted sack rate to rank the O-lines by what can only be assumed to be quality. Unless you think they meant to just list them with ordinal numbers arbitrarily assigned.

I do get the argument that some of it depends on the QB, but hurries addresses that issue, which shows that the Chicago line is not the worst. So although the metric is flawed so is the argument that Chicago has the worst o-line.

77 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Like every other "individual" offensive stat on FO, Adjusted Sack Rate is best thought of as "With these teammates, running these plays, under this scheme, this player/unit has put up this level of performance" much more than as any sort of definitive statement on a player's (or in the case of ASR, unit's) ability. Subjectively, I'd rate the Bears to be among the 5 worst pass blocking offensive lines in the league, and the notion that they're 11th best, and better than the Vikings' offensive line, is laughable.

86 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

That's the football outsider spirit that I love looking at the Stats so that you don't toe the party line but dig deeper.

Let me start by saying I think Doug's article really highlights two problems: One that adjusted sack rate is far too dependent on QB ability to be used in ranking O-Lines. Even if you don't mean to show quality you're still ranking their production which seems crazy to do when it depends so much on the QB.

The second problem would be that it seems despite what the objective stats are saying, both sacks and hurries people are still buying into it's not Jay it's the line. That means you have to be willing to say that Jay is so much better at avoiding a sack that he's making his line produce better than Minnesota's I'm just not willing to say he's that much better at avoiding a sack than Brett Favre is.

83 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

going by pro football focus's ratings, Pace and Chris Williams are, by far, the worst OT tandem in the league, with williams 4th worst and pace 6th. The only comparably bad tandem is Stephon Heyer (arguably the worst RT in the league) and Levi Jones for the redskins, who to be fair have also been horrendous.

94 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

It's interesting - PFF says that Pace, Williams, and Omiyale have been terrible this year, Kreutz, Garza, and Beekman have been average, and Shaffer was average in Cleveland. But for some reason the Bears are going back to Omiyale at LG over Beekman, and Shaffer is only now getting a chance to play with Pace injured. If PFF is right, the Bears could have 4/5 of a decent line, only missing an LT (where they blew a 2008 first round pick and a high-profile free agent pickup) - they just haven't been playing the right guys.

43 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Here's something else to ponder... everyone keeps talking about Denver's two great receivers, and I'm assuming that they're referring to Marshall (beast) and Royal... but Royal's numbers have really plummeted this year. Part of that is Gaffney being around but I think a lot of people (myself included) expected Royal to really rip shit up in the Wes Welker role in McD's offense and he really hasn't (it's been Stokley if anyone from the games I've watched).

So you have to acknowledge that there was somewhat of a symbiotic relationship going on with Cutler / Royal.

Marshall is a different case as the kind of receiver he is, the great plays he's going to make are the kind where he just goes up and gets a ball, then breaks a bunch of tackles, he doesn't need as much from a QB to be effective. Just throw him the damn ball.

111 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Well, for one, Royal doesn't (often) play in the Wes Welker role. He mostly runs clearing routes to open things underneath. In theory, when defenses cheat up to take away the underneath routes, that should benefit Royal, but Orton simply can't make the throws that would capitalize on that. Royal's numbers have dropped partly because of scheme, and partly because due to playing with a less dynamic QB.

63 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

".....In Denver, he was dealing with a better offensive coaching staff, a better scheme, a better offensive line, and better receivers"

Gee I wonder why he got worse?

75 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Those deep throws going all over the place? "He's waiting for the pressure. He's perceiving the pressure now when it's not there because it’s happened so often, he’s just expecting it to happen.

This is what I've been noticing, too. Somebody earlier in the season made the point that it's a big shift going from the Denver line with Clady and the other good tackle to what the Bears have now. It doesn't seem like Cutler has made the adjustment well. He seems jumpy a lot.

I'm a little worried that this season is going to give Cutler a fatal case of David Carr Syndrome.

76 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Cosell is right about Cutler's mechanics, but probably wrong about mechanics in general. Jay Cutler looks -terrible- right now. Only Jamarcus Russell looks less like an NFL quarterback in the pocket this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks better. The Browns have two quarterbacks they've alternatively benched who look better in the pocket. That said, Jay Cutler makes better throws while performing modern dance moves and moving backwards faster than many people can run than Derek Anderson does when playing catch in practice. But he doesn't make better throws than Brett Favre unless he is actually working at it.

You can turn, with enough work, virtually any NFL quality starting quarterback into Matt Hasselbeck or Marc Bulger. That's pretty much the likely range for Cutler's eventual place in the NFL hierarchy (mind you, I'm talking Bulger in 2005-6). Cutler has a few things against him; the diabetes, what is apparently a Ryan Leaf Lite work ethic. But he has a great arm, decent mobility, and every opportunity to do what Vince Young has done: Take being an NFL quarterback seriously.

I bet Peyton Manning watches more film than Jay Cutler. I bet Drew Brees does too; and probably Chad Pennington (in his two weeks between shoulder injuries).

What's wrong with Jay Cutler? He isn't pissed off that he's losing. Have you seen Peyton on the sideline after a three and out? He look sullen to you? No. He's jawing with people, bitching that someone didn't do their job, and they're often jawing right back that he didn't do his. Point is, they seem like they gie a damn, and especially against Philadelphia Jay looked like he was cashing a paycheck.

91 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

The biggest problem with Cutler at the moment, that any knowledgeable Bears fan will tell you is that he is playing under the most incompetent Offensive Coordinator in the NFL, Ron Turner.

As far as I'm concerned, the OC is responsible for the entire offense and its his job to put together the best O-Line and make sure the WRs are properly coached. Turner has failed miserably at this this year. In fact, he has failed in every single one of his 8 seasons as Bears' OC. He had one good year in 1995 with Erik Kramer. Every other year the Bears' offense has ranked in the bottom half of the league in DVOA and conventional statistics.

It isn't just a coincidence that during Turner's second tenure with the Bears, that 3 QBs: Grossman, Griese and Cutler have regressed significantly under his tutorage. Only Orton didn't really regress, but now he looks a far better QB playing under a competent coaching staff in Denver.

Turner also has an obsession with the passing game. He loves nothing more than to fling it around, especially during Primetime or playoff games. Under Orton, he simply had no choice but to run the ball as Orton wasn't suited to the deep passing game. With his new toy Cutler, he's back doing what he loves and it has completely derailed this season.

Cutler has been poor this season, no doubt. But this is a product of the Bears offensive coaching staff, rather than Cutler being a mediocre QB.

The sooner Turner and co are run out of town, the better.

95 Aesthetic QB'ing...

At what point do we accept that many judgements of the quarterback is fundamentally about how appealingly ontologically qb he is?

I mean, it's getting pretty obvious to me that *all* QBs are system QBs to some extent or another and that they reflect, to a great extent, the qualities of other people. Matt Ryan and JaMarcus Russell looked like different quarterbacks at the end of last year than they did in the middle of this season and it can be hard to explain why the regression occurred. Not so much with Mark Sanchez, but it can be difficult to withold judgement on Josh Freeman.

Thing is...when a QB does have a good OLine and good recievers and something like a running game, even a rookie like Dennis Dixon (who put up as many points against the Ravens as Peyton Manning) or Matt Ryan last year can look like world beaters. The rules that favor offense makes this inevitable. What Peyton Manning is doing now is actually more remarkable than Brees or Rivers and their like. He has a decent line, but not world beater. He also has a mediocre (from what little I've seen of it) recieving crew. I mean, they catch his balls and all, but they are utterly dependent on systematic timed plays aren't they?

Shouldn't we make a large effort to extract QBs from the systemic factors that surround them (the qualitative stuff that you have to watch games for, and not stats that turns out Bears OLine being the 11th best)?

102 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I have to address the work ethic issue with Cutler. It's completely false. First of all, if you watch the games, you see how upset and into things he gets. If he isn't talking to someone on the sideline, its' because he's seething at how things are going, not because he just figures "screw it." The first thing he did after the SF game was go back into the film room for 5 hours to try to figure out what happened. Not only does he watch his own film in the QB meetings, he is in every WR meeting as well. He's not just taking notes either, the WR in interviews have stated that he is the one directing those meetings and telling the WR what he's looking for. Say what you want about the type of WR those WR are, but their numbers are vastly improved from recent years. They don't know how to "go up and grab it" and they are woeful in adjusting their routes once Cutler has to scramble, but to say that Cutler doesn't work hard or care is just patently false. Also, he only found out about his diabetes in like the last year or two, where are these reports of him going binge drinking coming from, and how many were from Vanderbilt?

104 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

What a great article! Great job on this, and keep them coming.

Oddly, at the start of the year, I was thinking, OMFG, what are the Bears doing with their oline and recievers. Especially o-line. And I kept reading, and the "experts" all thought they upgraded it, but I was like WTF, that doesn't make sense. Then most of them have the Bears taking the NFCN. And I still couldn't figure it, cause, man, that O-Line was NOT looking like an say the least. So, I figured they were experts and its a race. Well, so much for that. LOL, as a Vikes fan, I am cheering for Angelo, go go go, keep your job! And of course TT too, in GB...go go go keep your job! Who needs an O-line?

113 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Nicely done, Doug.

And, wow! The number of comments certainly speaks to the polarizing nature of Cutler to fans. Actually, the quality of comments speaks to it as well, as most other players wouldn't generate casual accusations of being a lazy, sodden, giftless, uncompetitive mope whose type-1 diabetes is actually a character flaw.

From what I've seen, Cosell and Farrar are spot-on. Cutler needs to improve his discipline -- both in decision-making and repeatable mechanics -- but that's not easy to do when you can smell Jared Allen's breath before you've completed the third step of your drop.

115 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Denver fan here with my 2 cents worth. Reading all the comments trigged my recall about Kyle Orten and his early play here.The problen was in the early games he was rushing his throws. They said he was feeling pressure when their wasn't any. Hold over from his Bears days? Once he got used to the idea he was not going to be knocked on his tail everytime he went back to pass the problem went away - combine that with a good set of receivers - we like him just fine now.

Jay Cutler is a heck of a player but zippo offensive line - receivers- well it is what it is.

121 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

I still think the Cutler trade was a kin to the Vikings-Cowboys trade for Herscel Walker that netted Dallas all of those first round picks. Walker was never heard from again and Dallas went on to 3 Super Bowl wins.

The key here was the Bears infrastructure. Bringing in Cutler should have been a 'finishing' touch, not the first move. The Bears have no offense. Really. Not only that, as pointed out in this article, they also have no plans and coaches who are not the best in the business. Someone said they are 'a collection of asst. coaches waiting for someone to lead them'.

Now Denver is going to use those picks and grab a QB and some defensive help in the draft and play out Orten another season or so, making the playoffs but not winnings the big one. Then its off to the races. I fully expect them to get the ND QB, who I think may pan out to be a good QB.

The Bears, on the other hand, have a total mess to deal with. They need a new coach and GM, and new players. They have to start with a new offensive line, at minimum, to protect Cutler. The defense can wait. Bring in some backs and ends and try to score points. They also really need a legit coach who can work both sides of the ball and knows talent. They need a new guy, not a retread like Shanahan or that clown Cowher, who is a system guy and not a team builder. Like him or not, that coach in Denver is a team builder. He's either going to win or get rode out of town on a rail.

124 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

QB is almost never a "'finishing' touch"; I can think of one example, the 2009 Vikings.

Additionally, should the Bears be in the market for one of the big-name coaches this offseason, already having their QB, which is the hardest position to find a franchise player at, makes them a much more attractive option.

If you were Mike Shanahan or Bill Cowher, where would you rather coach? Buffalo, with Trent Edwards/Ryan Fitzpatrick? Washington, with Jason Campbell? Cleveland, with Brady Quinn? Or Chicago, with Jay Cutler?

Regardless of his flaws, the Bears are still the best option there.

128 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Seriously mate how can you compare trading for a RB (one of the most imjury prone and fungible positions in football) for a young QB? Favre is still playing at 40, Warner is also getting close and several of the top QBs in the game tell us they still want to play for several more seasons. There is every chance Cutler will still be the Bears QB in ten years time.

You say that Denver will spend the picks on defensive players but they only have one pick of the ones the Bears gave them left. They might get a very good player but there is every chance they will get a bust. So far the trade is Orton, Ayers, half of Jonathan Quinn and one pick this year in exchange for Cutler and Johnny Knox. I still think the Bears are ahead on this one.

123 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Well, maybe #102 is right and I'm wrong about my 2nd point, but here's a couple of unsubstantiated opinions.

1. Watching the Thursday night debacle, it seemed to me that Cutler's face was extremely puffy and very unhealthy looking. I mentioned it to my wife and she agreed. Neither of us are medical professionals. I don't recall Cutler looking like that with Denver (as a Chiefs fan I saw lots of cloe-ups of him) and honestly have not tried to get before and after pictures. To me, though, he looks unhealthy, though I have no explanation what the cause is. If true, this could be affecting his performance.

2. In Denver, with Shanahan, every player had to know that Shanny would cut or bench them if they didn't perform (again, my unsubstantiated opinion of how Shanahan ran a team). Every one, including Cutler. That can take its toll on people, always living in fear of their jobs (in this area, I have some experience), but it can focus the mind on listening to the coach. Cutler seems to have responded reasonably well to that leadership style. It didn't hurt that Shanahan had two rings and experience coaching a hall of fame QB. I don't think that atmosphere exists in Chicago. Turner and Lovie (on the offensive side of the ball) do not have that credibility. The GM and coach have basically made Cutler the franchise - he is essentially unbenchable and uncuttable. I suspect this, combined with a lack of respect for the credentials of Turner/Lovie, has made him in many ways uncoachable. Which is another way of saying that his mechanics are not fixable under the current regime.

Anyhow, just my pop medical and pyschology take on Cutler in Chicago.

125 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

Sorry, after adding my 2 cents, I forgot to complete the author on the article. Very well done, and I thought Cosell's comments were the most objective I've read on the topic. He was right on with his observations about the Bears coaching shortcomings and lack of brainpower. Great article, and please do more in the same vein. Us fans can always use 'useful' content.

132 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

No matter where he goes, no matter how much he underachieves, people will always, always, always make excuses for Jay Cutler.

Seduced by the (unearned) celebrity and the most over-rated QB ability of them all (arm strength), some fans and most journalists will make excuse after excuse after excuse.

And Cutler will always disappoint in the end.

Hopefully it was sarcasm, but someone above me here actually said that the Bears were ahead in the deal with Denver. That is just not facing up to facts. If you were an extreme fanboy you MIGHT be able to say that Chicago might end up ahead someday, but to say they are ahead now, or were ahead at the time of the deal is just wearing blinders. I mean, come on. Cutler has been a massive disappointment so far.

Jay Cutler will always average around an interception a game (1.18 career now). And will lead the NFL in "interceptions thrown at the worst possible time."

Jay Cutler is Dan Marino + Jeff George + Ryan Leaf. And the Marino part of him gets outvoted 2-1 on crucial internal votes.

135 Re: Cover-1: What's Wrong with Jay Cutler?

So the two years Orton starts for the Bears they go, what, 11-5 and 9-7. But you just decide that he would be on pace for 4-12 this year.

Meanwhile, in Cutler's two years starting in Denver (with Shanahan, not Lovey), the team is 7-9 and 8-8.

Denver is already 7-4 this year. Barring a complete Cutleresque collapse, Orton will do better there, too. Just like he did in Chicago.

But people will always, always excuse Cutler and find some way to make it not his fault. Which I get the feeling is exactly what Cutler does, so it is appropriate, I guess.