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Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

The Bears have benched Jay Cutler for Jimmy Clausen for this week's game against Detroit. Just a colossal epic fail, and unfortunately not an epic Fales. Based on DVOA, Jay Cutler has been an average quarterback this year. He has very high highs and very low lows, but he's never been a bad quarterback. I assume this basically closes the door on his career in Chicago. What does starting Jimmy Clausen prove? Jimmy Clausen is terrible, and Jimmy Clausen is not a promising young player in any way? The only thing that might make sense here would be for the Bears to try out sixth-round rookie David Fales. At least he might have a future with the team. WTF?

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168 comments, Last at 27 Dec 2014, 7:39am

32 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Hey, before Trestman or Gruden leave their current jobs, I think the Colts might want to trade a certain first round RB.... Who knows, adding a stud like that might just save their jobs! It can't get any worse, right? Or maybe pulling those strings would get them fired mid-week (what they want anyway, apparently).

(Yes, yes, I know HCs don't trade players, GMs do, plus it's long after the deadline, but suspend your disbelief just long enough to enjoy the joke.)

2 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

This is a terrible decision in all sorts of ways that don't involve humor. Clausen is clearly terrible, and Cutler is not. Somebody, either in the front office or coaching staff, has to have made this decision purely out of spite, right? I mean, there's no other possible vaguely sane explanation.

That being said, yes, I will likely tune in for a few shots of unhappy Jay Cutler on the sidelines as Jimmy Clausen throws his 17th INT of the day.

121 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I read an article on ESPN that suggested that this decision was contract related:

"Cutler's contract could be a big reason for the quarterback's benching, according to ESPN NFL Insider Mark Dominik.

The deal calls for Cutler to be paid $15.5 million in 2015. A $10 million guarantee kicks in on March 12, the third day of the 2015 league year, if Cutler is on the Bears' roster. If Cutler is injured at that time, the Bears will owe him $10 million in 2016."

3 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

J. Cutler: up and down quarteback, mopey guy

J. Clausen: crap quarterback

D. Fales: probably not ready to play qusterback in NFL. Making him start vs Lpins frpnt 4 would be cruel.

Am of opinion nwo that a lot of young quartrbacks should sit until really ready to play. Good examples are Ken Stabler siting on bench for ong time. Of course, had Lamonica still starting and good. But more recently Culpepper and Palmer did not play a s rookies. Neither hall of gamer but borth good careers for a while. Of couse, culepper fell off cliff

4 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Two guesses. One, that Trestman wants to watch Clausen get snapped in half over Suh's knee like a twig (which, yes, most people wouldn't mind watching either, but not if I was trying to coach games). The other is that the Bears are metaphorically trying to bench their entire team by benching their most visible player. Sure, Cutler is perpetually angsty and not without fault, but between the Kromer fiasco and this, it seems like the coaching staff is trying to refocus all the blame on him to attempt to save their own hides. I highly doubt it will work.

Really, this whole thing seems like something the Vikings would have pulled. I keep getting the strange feeling they and the Bears have somehow switched rosters and management during the course of this year.

6 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Here's some wild speculation on why Trestman might be doing this:

Trestman thinks that Cutler is the problem, and that he can work miracles with plenty of non-Cutler QBs (like he did with McCown). And at this point, his one hope of keeping his job is demonstrating that to his bosses by getting a couple of good weeks out of Jimmy Clausen. This will take some luck, but he thinks Clausen might be good enough come through, since he has shown some promise during practice. Clausen may be on the Kyle Orton career path, of looking disastrous as a rookie when he had no business being on the field, but then developing into a competent starter a few years later.

15 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

This actually makes something like sense. If he does for Clausen what he did for McCown then he's a got a strong case for the Bears to jettison Cutler and let him keep his job. And not a terrible bet considering the enmity Cutler generates - Trestman is betting people hate Cutler enough to blame the guy for everything.

81 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Perfectly reasonable, particularly if Trestman thinks he is about to be fired. IF (big if) this is Trestman's decision. If, on the other hand it's (GM) Emery's call then perhaps Emery has decided he is trading Cutler and simply wants to see what the Bears have in CLausen (i.e., worth resigning?), or perhaps Emery is uncertain if he is trading Cutler and want to see if the offense, without-Cutler/with-Clausen, is almost the same.

One trouble with the measure of Cutler by substituting Clausen is nobody knows how bad Clausen is. Everybody here knows how bad the Caroline passing offense was ("Quarterback" DVOA) when Clausen was in as a rookie but all Caroline QBs had that abysmal DVOA that year.

7 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Absolutely baffling move. Any sense if dread I had of the Lions blowing this game just evaporated. Cutler was at least high-variance enough that you could still fear him dropping a big game on you. The only thing to fear with Jimmy Clausen is a flurry of 3 yard outs and hitches.

Only two possibilities make any sense to me whatsoever. It was either out of spite, like Milkman said, or the front office is trying to prove Cutler is not the problem (since they're likely stuck with him anyway)

8 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

The only way this would make sense is if there's been some behind the scenes screaming blue fit between Cutler and his coaches. It isn't even like their moving on to find promising youngster.

It could be worse, they could be the 49ers.

45 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Yea, basically this. Also remember the Lions lost a road game to Carolina in week 2, and Carolina is at most barely better than Chicago. It would have been infuriating, but not totally shocking, if they lost on the road to the Cutler-led Bears. With Clausen in, I can't envision any scenario where they don't walk away with the win.

11 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

This makes no sense whatsoever. They're deliberately hurting what little trade value he might have, making themselves look incompetent, handing a playoff spot to Detroit while screwing an NFC East team, pissing off all their fans, and getting themselves fired. I can't think of a single shred of possible upside here.

I had such high hopes/support for Emery and Trestman. I really did like them a lot.

And benching the average QB still does nothing about the wet paper towel defense, which is the real reason the team sucks!

52 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I disagree that this is hurting his trade value. It's not like Cutler is a young guy or one who has only a couple years as a starter under his belt...is there anyone delusional enough at this point to think he's anything but what he is? Even if he came out and played well in the last two meaningless games, would anyone really be dumb enough to think that it means he's figured something out?

On the other hand, Cutler suffering a serious injury like a torn ACL or something would torpedo his trade value.

93 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)


Maybe they already have a handshake deal for him.

I was thinking when Gruden benched RGIII that it'd be funny to see Chip Kelly find a way to use a third team to grab Griffin and then flip him over to the Eagles if he thought he could use the athleticism and rehab his mind... Was thinking Dalton would be the most enticing to Washington but what if the Bears and Skins flipped disappointing QBs?

I guess WAS couldn't afford it but that'd be such a Snyder thing to do. And then the Bears could maybe get clever in a multi-pick swap so that the cost to Philly wouldn't be too high while still improving their draft leverage a bunch. Not likely but that sure would be interesting...

14 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Sorry Bears fans, but...

...please lower his trade value enough for Buffalo to trade for him....

I will agree that this makes absolutely zero sense. Cutler's not the solution, but he's not the problem, either. Maybe they're benching him so he doesn't get hurt so they can trade him?

47 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Yeah, that seems plausible in all sorts of ways. I harbor a certain private terror that somebody in Tampa will see how Cutler can fling a deep ball, and, well, with a couple of tall, downfield WRs with excellent ball skills, all that pinpoint accuracy isn't all that necessary, right? There's no need to draft a QB, we can just sign Cutler, hire Trestman as our OC, draft a probably uninspiring lineman . . . I'll be huddled in the corner if anybody needs me.

118 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

"[T]hey don't have enough draft value"? Do you really think that teams are going to be willing to shower the Bears with high picks for the guy they benched for Jimmy Clausen? Especially after he just signed a big contract?

Maybe Trestman honestly believes he has a better chance to win with Clausen right now. Or maybe Cutler's behavior inside Halas Hall was so unacceptable that benching him is appropriate. Neither of those cases leaves Chicago with a valuable asset. While I agree with all the people who are saying Cutler's a decent quarterback, the rest of the league sees what's happening right now, too.

17 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Not starting Fales against the LIons does make sense. Anyone who disagrees needs to watch the SackElroy game. Who cares if Clausen gets snapped like a twig, put the rookie with promise in against a cheesepuff like the Vikings did with Bridgewater, not against the no. 1 or 2 pass defense in the league.
Now, can someone get Trestman to put Fales on the practice squad?

60 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Generally, I think you're right. I also think Trestman has shown himself to be enough of a failure that cutting their losses and moving on is the right thing for the Bears to do. He was brought in to coach a team that had previously finished 10-6, that ostensibly had a QB, and also had some other offensive pieces; moreover, he was supposed to be "the quarterback whisperer" who would get more out of Cutler than anyone before him.

Now, the defensive collapse over the past couple years really isn't his fault. But the poor play of the offense combined with his lack of leadership is enough for me to say that he's not an NFL head coach.

The only argument for keeping him is that, if the Bears ownership keeps Cutler and Emery and doesn't make sweeping changes, there's no point in hiring a different head coach who'd be doomed to fail. So if that is the case, better to keep Trestman another year and get rid of him then.

64 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Yeah, but to me it's not just the results of the games but the way they've played, and specifically the things that reflect directly on Trestman. What you've said about the injuries is true, but he's also had a healthy Matt Forte all season and has been curiously reluctant to run the ball in situations where it would make sense. And then in press conferences, despite being the offensive playcaller, he'll say things like "I don't know why we didn't run more." He just comes across as clueless and completely overmatched as a head coach. Plus he seems incapable of adjusting the plan when it's not working during games.

I agree about the coordinators and I don't blame him for Mel Tucker since apparently he was handpicked by Emery. I also don't know how much to blame Cromer (for the on-the-field stuff, that is), but to me Trestman's failure isn't about coordinators, it's about him.

If I hear him say that they had a good week of practice one more time, my head might explode.

77 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

When he can't answer questions in a way that makes me confident that he's in control of the team and has a clue about what he's doing, yes. With that example specifically, he could have given just about any reason for not running the ball more and even if I disagreed with the football logic behind the decision, that's a lot less troubling to me than a playcaller whose answer for why plays were called a certain way was "I don't know."

I mean, I get that most of what's going on in a coach's head isn't for public consumption and of necessity, he's not going to be brutally honest about a lot of things. But the level of bizarre pronouncements he's made this season (I believe "there are a lot of good things going on with this football team" is something he said after Monday's loss) is just too much.

89 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I've rooted hard for Trestman, because people I know well have known him since he was a freshman in college, and have spoken highly of him as a human being. Having said that, I think it is pretty evident that Trestman did a poor job, or perhaps a very unlucky job, of hiring his staff, and given that is pretty close to the most important job for a head coach, well, guys have been fired for worse reasons than that.

84 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Given that STs were good in Chicago when he was the coach and bad after and that KC now has a superior ST for the second year in a row (Toub's second year with them, not so coincidentally), I'm ready for this. STs seem like an area of football that constantly test the organization and judgement of a coordinator. Toub passes all such tests.

87 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I'd like to see Toub as a head coach.

As for DeCamillis, I would be happy seeing him fired as I expect he will be, but I go back and forth on how much he's to blame for the abysmal special teams. On one hand, he has been given almost nothing to work with talent-wise. On the other hand, you'd think that even with bad talent, a good ST coordinator could at least tell them to stop running the ball out of the end zone to get tackled at the 12 and stop committing stupid penalties on about half of all return plays.

162 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Philly’s ST DVOA
(2008-2012) - 13th, 2nd, 12th, 17th, 23rd

I don’t know that once in the 20s in five years would generally be considered awful. Even in 2012 it was a better ranking than the offense or defense.

Philly’s OFF DVOA
(2008-2012) - 12th, 11th, 3rd, 8th, 25th

Philly’s DEF DVOA
(2008-2012) - 3rd, 3rd, 11th, 11th, 26th

I would like to see another special tams coach given a chance. Personally I think Toub’s window is closing. He’s 52 (Harbaugh was 45 when he was hired). There haven’t been a whole lot of successful head coaches hired in their 50’s who were never head coaches at any level previously. Harbaugh himself thought his window was closing which is why he asked Reid to move him to secondary coach in 2007. And it still needed to a phone call from Belichick ( a former special teams coach himself) to the Ravens to get Harbaugh an interview.

Who knows maybe John Fassel will be the next ST coordinator to become a head coach.

20 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I agree that the only way this makes sense is if Cutler went full 7 year old, and just was ridiculously insubordinate, to the point that a suspension was considered.

How big a check is the McCaskey family willing to sign, in the course of mucking out the stables come February?

28 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I doubt it - Cutler is too passive. That's not his style.

Dan and Chemical Burn likely have it nailed.

Trestman is throwing the Hail Mary in an attempt to save his job. Show that he can work miracles with guys that fit his WCO system (which JC does not) and maybe he saves his skin or at least gets another crack at an OC position.

The question is why does Emery go along with the move? Likely to make sure Jay's not injured so that he can be moved in the offseason.

30 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

You can't move a guy you just benched, who is guaranteed another 30 million-plus dollars. Your question demonstrates why the scenario is very unlikely. You couldn't get much more 4th round pick for Cutler at this point, and maybe not even that, given the contract. You may have to keep him, which cuts down on the pool of coaching candidates.

70 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

There might be a less clunky way to do this under the CBA and salary cap rules, but I know that the Bears could at least reduce Cutler's guaranteed 2015/2016 base salaries by converting portions of them to signing bonuses, which they could pay him before they trade him, effectively eating some of the money on his contract. Cutler's new team would then not have to worry about any of that prorated bonus money, just whatever his reduced base salary is. It might improve the return they are able to get for him enough to make eating some extra money worth it for the Bears, especially since if they were to cut him outright it would be $19.5 million in dead money.

91 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

That's what I was going for. If the Bears do decide they're done with Cutler (and based on how this has played out, it sure looks like they are), they're going to have to eat some money either way. He's basically unrelease-able before 2017, with around $19 million in dead money accelerating onto their cap if they cut him in either of the next two offseasons. They'd probably be willing to absorb something in the $10-14 million range to make a trade if it at least meant getting something worthwhile in return.

23 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I also think a midseason firing of the o-coordinator would have been warranted. It has to be a wee bit disgusting to be paying a coordinator's salary to a meathead who is too damned stupid to understand that there isn't anything to be gained by "anonymously" ripping, to local media, the guy that just was guaranteed 50 million plus a few months ago, no matter how accurate the ripping was. If Trestman wanted to save his job, he should have had a public hanging at that juncture.

25 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Lots of good points here. For a long time I believed the Bears might make bad personnel decisions, but didn't have disastrous internal communication. This kind of puts an end to that idea.

29 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

d. anderson, j. manzeil, j. clausen, a. smith, k. orton v d. carr, c. whitehurst, r. lindell, t. lweis, s. hill, m. sanchez, g. smith, j. mccown, and the jaguars QB

WEEK 16.

37 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I agree this move is a bizarre one, but I have to disagree with the idea that Cutler has been "an average quarterback" this season. Yes, his DVOA (-0.5%) has been average, but it's important to remember that DVOA can't separate a QB's performance from his surrounding cast, and Cutler has some of the best weapons of any QB in the league. In fact, just last year, with basically the same supporting cast, career backup Josh McCown ranked 4th in the league with 32.1% DVOA. Given that, I'd say Cutler's performance has been somewhere between bad and terrible this year. He's been a huge disappointment.

Having said that, even at his worst, Cutler is better than Jimmy Clausen, who should consider himself awfully fortunate to be on an NFL roster at all at this point. So, yeah, as bad as Cutler has been this year, it's still hard to believe the Bears think Clausen gives them a better chance to win.

49 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Yes, but Josh McCown's performance clearly was in no way repeatable. In no way at all. I should repeat that a bunch of times.

McCown had a half-season of excellent games, which are by far a huge statistical outlier for his generally crappy career. Calling that evidence for the quality of the supporting case doesn't really work for me. Sometimes, players have statistical blips. McCown has some pretty excellent WRs to throw to this year in Evans and Vince Jackson, and he's played like utter crap. There's been regression in all sorts of places in Chicago this year, and, if you put Josh McCown back behind that line again, I guarantee you Bears fans would be longing for a Cutler-like season.

51 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Let's look at the Bears offense as a whole. Marshall has been bad this year, at least in part due to injury. Jeffery was also playing hurt for a long time and clearly that affected his ability to get open. I'm convinced that Martellus "pass me the ball when I'm open and I'll drop it" Bennett is one of the most overrated tight ends in the league. The offensive line has regressed from last year, partly because of injury, and I am convinced that the only above-average players on the line now are Slausen (who is of course not playing now since he got injured, what, week 5 or 6?) and Long. Mills has been abysmal. And for whatever reason, nobody on that offense can manage to avoid presnap penalties. (Forte has been solid, true).

Cutler is a huge disappointment compared to his contract, absolutely, but I'd still argue he's been about average this season.

68 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I'm not going to waste time arguing about this. I really should have known better than to disparage Cutler in any way here on his personal fan site, err, I mean, Football Outsiders. Seriously, if Cutler put up numbers that made Blaine Gabbert look like Peyton Manning, I have no doubt people here would trip all over themselves to make excuses for him. It's been like this here ever since he was in Denver. Is it really that hard for you guys to admit you were wrong about him?

I remember when he first got to Chicago, the constant line around here was, "Oh, if he only had even one decent WR to throw to, he'd be the greatest thing since sliced bread." Well, guess what? They went out and got him two pretty damn good WRs, guys who were good enough to make Josh freakin' McCown look like a solid QB, and Cutler still craps his pants on a weekly basis. But is it his fault? Of course not! After all, he doesn't have a complete All-Pro team around him, right?

The fact is that by far the biggest difference between an offense that was one of the best in the league last year and an offense that has been thoroughly mediocre this year is the presence of Cutler. If you honestly believe half the starting QBs in the NFL would have done worse with the Bears than Cutler has this year, then I don't know what to say to convince you otherwise. It's just that simple.

71 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Half of all starting QB's are below average. There are plenty of teams that don't even have an average, competent starter. The Bills and Rams would be deep in the playoff hunt with Cutler-level QB. The Titans, Jets, Bucs, and probably a few teams with their latest QB-of-the-Future (Jags, Texans, Raiders) would be well served with a Cutler-level QB.

100 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I have defended Cutler, mostly because I was wowed over by his second season in Denver. Since then, he's progressively disappointed me - but even before this year - I had essentially written him off as a high variance qb that aggregated into around average. Then again, since most of us are risk averse, that high variance is actually a negative so it puts him slightly below average. Being around average is clearly not good enough, but then take a look at the league right now.

Ignoring teams' with first round rookies, the following is a list of teams that - were they given a chance at a 1st round qb, they would instantly take it:

Redskins, Eagles, Rams, Cardinals, Bears, Bucs, Raiders, Bills, Jets, Titans, Texans.

If we include teams who are one poor season away from jettisoning their starters, then:

Chiefs, Browns, Bengals, Dolphins, Giants, 49ers.

And since rookie qbs aren't off to a good start either, that could push up the total to 20. 20 out of 32 teams have some level of instability at qb. And that doesn't even address the day when the big 3 finally breakdown and retire. Then what?

I have basically named over half the league with uncertainty at qb. That is mindboggling. I think in this light - Cutler will and SHOULD attract attention as a starter next year.

78 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I really should have known better than to disparage Cutler in any way here on his personal fan site, err, I mean, Football Outsiders.

That is hilarious on so many levels. There are about three vocal Cutler defenders who regularly post here, and none of them is in any way affiliated with the site. If you want to specifically ask those people if they've changed their minds, go ahead, but slagging the site for this is just...

95 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

If you replaced "Cutler" with "Romo" maybe you'd have an argument, as FO has pointed out multiple times how well Romo has played vs. the narrative of him being Tony Choker. Cutler? Does anybody really defend Cutler? I mean, the defense is "it's not all Cutler's fault". That's it. DVOA says he's pretty average. Standard stats? Here, some examples:

QB 1: 26 TDs, 13 INTs, 63.2%, 3590 yards, 2.5 INT%.
QB 2: 28 TDs, 18 INTs, 66.1%, 3640 yards, 3.4 INT%.
QB 3: 15 TDs, 14 INTs, 63.4%, 3008 yards, 3.3 INT%.

Three QBs. QB 1 is Eli Manning. Better than last year, but numbers not that far off from the others. QB 2 is, of course, Jay Cutler. Lots of INTs, lots of passes. Better completion % than the other two. QB 3? Andy Dalton. Is someone out there suggesting Andy Dalton should be benched for . . . (runs to a website to find the Bengals depth chart) Jason Campbell? No, because the rest of the Bengals team has been solid enough to allow the Bengals to overcome Dalton's less-than-great play. The Bears are not solid enough to do so for Cutler.

It's not that Cutler has been good. It's that he hasn't been personally bad enough to blame him for all the problems in Chicago. Yes, he's a turnover machine. Yes, he has a pouty face. BUT THE BEARS SUCK REGARDLESS.

117 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

It's ironic that you mention Romo, because he's a perfect example of a guy who typically is held to a far higher standard than Cutler. It is true that he's given a bit more slack at FO than most places, but it doesn't compare to Cutler.

Imagine if the Cowboys were having the same season (great year by Murray, significantly improved defense, etc.), except that they had a losing record and Romo was leading the league in turnovers. Do you really think anyone (at FO or elsewhere) would be saying, "Well, it's not really his fault. Bryant is having a down year, Witten's past his prime, etc. Romo is still having a decent year."

Are you kidding? People would be saying he should be demoted to the practice squad. Hell, a lot of people wanted Romo's head on a platter last year, when he was being blamed for "only" scoring 48 points in a loss to the Broncos.

If the Bears were losing those kind of high-scoring shootouts, I'd be the first to say that Cutler isn't to blame. But they have gone from having a fantastic offense with Josh "Captain Clipboard" McCown to an offense that has been mediocre at best. If Romo and Cutler had switched places this year, I guarantee you that the Bears, and not the Cowboys, would be the ones in the playoff race right now.

As for the other guys you mention, I have long held that Eli and especially Dalton are both overrated, and I wouldn't be that shocked if the Bengals offense was about the same with Campbell as it has been with Dalton. A.J. Green is a hell of a lot better than anyone Campbell has ever had before. But putting all that aside, I already said (in my original comment) that I thought Cutler was better than Clausen, and that starting Clausen was a poor decision. So what? That in no way bolsters the ridiculous claim that Cutler has had an "average" year or that he deserves any sympathy for being benched, given the extent to which he has "underachieved" (to put it as politely as I possibly can).

132 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

OK guys, time to move on, the discussions closed. MC2 has guaranteed it and that's all the evidence we need. I'm sure there are some Seattle fans talking about how wonderful Russell Wilson is in another thread, you're going to have to try and entertain yourself there because this one has been wrapped up.

96 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I really should have known better than to disparage Cutler in any way here on his personal fan site, err, I mean, Football Outsiders.

I'm one of those who have defended Cutler in the past, and I'm a Packers fan. Nobody here is saying he's great. But it's not like he's Ryan Leaf or even coach-destroyer Jeff George. He's a talented guy who is at least an average QB. Teams like Buffalo and St Louis would love to have a QB at least that good. Cutler is not a media savvy player which seems to hurt him more than most. Maybe you'd rather bring Orton or Rex Grossman back.

Average QBs need talent around them. The last QB I saw play great with almost no talent around him was Favre in the late 90's. (Check the 1999 depth chart skill positions. RB - post-knee surgery Dorsey Levens backed by Basil Mitchell. WR - Antonio Freeman (the only good player), Billy Schroeder, Corey Bradford. TE - Tyrone Davis backed by Jeff Thomason.) To get a HoF QB, you have to be lucky. From Starr to Favre was over 20 years and the Packers had one good QB, Lynn Dickey. Cutler is about Lynn Dickey level. That's not bad.

98 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

There are different kinds of average qbs. There are ones without obviously huge, by NFL starting qb standards, physical skills, who effectively interact with teammates and coaches. There is at least one with obviously huge physical skills, who attract contract offers (not his fault obviously) that make him one of the higher paid qbs in the league, while having the sort of personality that causes former HOF teammates to rip him, and current very good teammates, like Peanut Tillman, give one of the lukest of lukewarm endorsements I've ever heard on the radio today.

101 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Cutler's media savvy is terrible. Does that make him a dbag? Possibly, but then I don't think being a good guy is a necessary condition to good qb play. Rodgers strikes me as vindictive sort of guy too, but because he can throw the football pretty damn well, his congeniality is sort of beside the point.

103 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

You don't have to be Mr. Glib Touchy Feely in that job, but you do need to lead. Actually being glib is probably a hindrance in an NFL locker room, and you can be a an effective leader while still being a jerk in some ways. Montana has always struck me as a guy who probably takes a rather minimalist approach to the spoken word, but guys speak in reverent tones about the manner in which he interacted with them as teammates. Marino by all accounts would really light guys up a regular basis, sometimes unfairly, but nobody doubted who was in charge outside of the head coach. The fact that something is impossible to quantify with regard to human interaction should make us suspicious as to it's real value, and cautious in employing it as prism through which to view matters, but it does not mean we should completely discount that it exists, either.

115 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Actually, I would say Jeff George is a pretty good comparison for Cutler, even ignoring the personality stuff, which doesn't matter that much to me anyway. Like George, Cutler is a guy with tremendous raw talent, but who simply makes way too many mistakes to be the kind of guy that you can realistically expect to win a championship with.

If you want to be a bit more charitable (and since you're a Packers fan), you could compare him to post-Holmgren Brett Favre: highly entertaining at times, but ultimately, not effective enough to justify the cap space he's taking up. Of course, in post-Holmgren Favre's case, there was the one exception, that first year in Minnesota, where he avoided the mistakes and played like a true franchise QB. Is it possible Cutler could someday have a year like that? I suppose so, but I sure wouldn't want to be the coach (or GM) holding my breath waiting for it to happen.

122 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Favre was great (3rd in DYAR) in 2007, his last year in Green Bay. In 2005, he was 10th by DYAR, which is better than the vast majority of Cutler's best yearly rankings. 5th in 2004. 10th in 2003. 5h in 2001. 9th in 2000. 9th in 1999. 9th in 1998. Then we get to the triple MVP era.

People, due to the admittedly ridiculous hype, entirely overstate Favre's weaknesses as a qb after Holmgren left. He was worth his cap space, and should never, ever, be mentioned as being similar to Cutler.

108 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

It's obvious you're not going to waste time arguing about Cutler, because your argument isn't based on "numbers that make Blaine Gabbert look like Peyton Manning." No such numbers exist, by the way.

Cutler's numbers aren't much different from last year, despite Marshall and Jeffery both playing with ankle injuries.

Pin the Bears' problems where they belong: on the very bad defense.

116 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Cutler's numbers aren't much different from last year, despite Marshall and Jeffery both playing with ankle injuries.

I don't really have to argue. You're making my point for me. Last year, when McCown (a career backup) was playing, the Bears offense was fantastic. With Cutler (both last year and this year), it has been mediocre at best. Last year, you Cutler defenders chalked it up to Cutler not being 100%. Now, this year, when Cutler has been healthy all year, the excuse is that the offense hasn't been totally injury free (as if any offense ever is) or that certain guys have dropped a few more passes this year than last year (again, as if this is something that only plagues poor Jay). I fail to see how any of this exonerates Cutler, given that his DVOA over the last two years is approximately 30% lower (!) than that of a career backup in roughly the same situation (please avoid once again pedantically pointing out that the situations are not exactly the same.)

Pin the Bears' problems where they belong: on the very bad defense.

Oh, I certainly don't deny that the Bears' defense has been quite poor. But it was basically just as poor last year, and yet, they were still somewhat competitive, as the explosive offense (under McCown) was able to largely compensate for the defensive ineptitude. Indeed, strange as it may seem to long-time observers of the NFL, that seems to have been the Bears' plan when constructing their roster: to simply outscore people. They opted to neglect the defense, so that they could pay their "franchise" QB and also surround him with lots of shiny toys on the offensive side of the ball. When the result of such a strategy is a QB who leads the league in turnovers and an offense that is mediocre at best, I fail to see why the "franchise" QB shouldn't shoulder a heavy portion of the blame.

41 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Devil's Advocate: Since the Bears have no playoff chance, this game is basically a preseason game. If Cutler is still going to be your QB next year, why not keep him healthy? Use this game to give Clausen a chance to prove himself worthy to stay on the roster.

44 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

If I were the Bears' management, and planning on Cutler being the QB next year, I would think that the risk of injury is far less than the risk that benching Cutler would open up an unbridgeable rift in the trust between him and the team. Remember, Cutler is the guy who refused to play for the Broncos ever again once Josh McDaniels started exploring a trade for Matt Cassel.

50 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

If the team really wants to be rid of Cutler, then why not play him the last two games and hope the coin flip comes up heads twice, and he has two great games? Then there is probably some trade value, even with his contract.

55 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Just when you think the Bears can't get any more dysfunctional. Wow. They really are the gift that keeps on giving, aren't they?

Benching Cutler seems like an inexplicable move. It can't possibly save Trestman's job, because he was brought in primarily to get the most out of Cutler. If he doesn't even believe in him anymore, that's a clear admission of failure. Similarly, it can't save Emery's job because he's the one who made Cutler the highest-paid QB in the league this year. No way can benching Cutler make Emery seem smart.

The good things about this are that the Bears are almost certain to finish 5-11 now (I didn't expect them to beat the Lions anyway, but you never know, and the Vikings seemed potentially beatable) and that maybe a couple games with a truly bad QB will get people to shut up and quit pretending that Cutler is the worst QB in the league.

I really do wonder if this is in part to ensure that Cutler can't get hurt, because they're hoping to trade him. I hear that there may be several teams that are interested and I can't believe the Bears would require all that much in return. (As for who the Bears would start next season, I don't particularly care. I'm rooting for a 2-14 season and a top draft pick in 2016; hopefully there will be a QB worth taking at that point).

57 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Would be twisting the knife to know that a Lions fan feels really sorry for Bears fans right now?

I didn't want to, because I lived in Chicago during the early Matt Millen years and still remember plenty of knucklehead Bears fans (nobody who posts on this website fits that description) piling on my misery. But I can't even enjoy this schadenfreude, because this is just really bad.

But hey, at least you don't haven a 0-16 year on the team's history, have better ownership, and have actually gotten to watch them play in a couple of Super Bowls, right?

62 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I can't believe there are many fan bases who don't feel sorry for Bears fans. I mean, there are worse teams, but I can't think of many who are as bad and as hopeless in the next couple years as the Bears.

I've only gotten to watch them in one Super Bowl as I was just a baby in '85, and I would seriously question whether the Bears have been ownership than the Lions. That's true about not having an 0-16 year, but I wish I was a Lions fan right now. (Well, as a Bears fan living in Packer country, I'm a Lions fan for the next two weeks anyway!)

59 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Maybe the Jets can try to bring him in to compete with Gino, or give Gino a year to learn, and improve. They could possibly be looking at free agents, and I don't see Sanchez coming back to that!

76 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

My only thought on the thinking behind this is motivational...it seems like a lot of the players have just given up, and are just going through the motions. Cutler is not exempt...heck, he might be one of the leaders.

I guess I can see benching Cutler if you think he's causing a general lack of motivation in the team, and you want to send a message that you're not tolerating that $#!+ anymore. In essence, a ploy to try to get the rest of the team to play like they care. Although, why would you wait until the season is lost...

90 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I'm not one of those who criticizes FO for not (allegedly) properly adjusting for play after the score becomes stompish, but I would like to know what percentage of Cutler's throws this year have occurred with the Bears down by more than 14, and what percentage of his DYAR has been accumulated under that condition. In the games I've seen, it seems like a good chunk of his production has occurred in the manner of Megatron's record yardage year, with defenses simply trying to avoid giving up 40 yard gains in a single snap. His averageness may have less than meets the eye.

92 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Very good question. Barnwell included those figures in his article on this subject.

"It’s fair to say Cutler’s numbers have been inflated by game situation. Arbitrarily defining garbage time to be any series in which a team is down by 14 points or more in the second half, the average starting quarterback in 2014 (minimum 200 attempts) has thrown 9.7 percent of his attempts and 9.9 percent of his passing yardage during garbage time. Cutler has thrown 17.1 percent of his attempts in those situations and gained 20.1 percent of his passing yards. He’s also posted a 102.7 passer rating in garbage time, up from the 87.5 figure Cutler’s hit during all other situations.

"That’s a big difference, but it’s not otherworldly. Several other quarterbacks on bad teams — notably Cam Newton, Blake Bortles, and Derek Carr — have produced a higher percentage of their attempts and pass yardage in garbage time. Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 15 percent of his passes in garbage time, and we’re not having the same debate about him. And the advanced stats that adjust for game situation hardly peg Cutler to be a total failure. QBR has him as the 19th-best passer in football. Football Outsiders’s DVOA has him 22nd."

97 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

The one thing that is hinted at in Barnwell's piece, via an anonymous source within the Bears organization, in another writer's piece, is the possibility that Cutler simply refuses to run the offense on the field in the manner instructed. The coaches keep telling him "When you see A presnap, respond with B", and Cutler, in his charming passive aggressive manner, just flat refuses to do so. The other players would be well aware of this, and if you just keep losing, week after week, it just becomes untenable, from the perspective of managing the organization. It's one thing to make huge allowances, for breaking the rules, by the superstar salesperson who exceeds budget by 200% in nearly every month, as the entire organization greatly exceeds expectations as well, but doing so for the salesperson who has the best commission deal, despite being nothing more than average at best, as the entire organization's numbers suck, is pretty unworkable.

When the Bears traded for Cutler, I said I expected him to succeed, but I mentioned reason for caution, due to some stories I had heard about Cutler's behavior in Denver, unrelated to work. In particular, I'd heard a rumor that a Denver area golf club had asked him to leave as a member, because he just refused to tuck his shirt in. Some people in that thread thought I was advocating for the purity of golf club dress codes, and ridiculed my post, probably because I wasn't making myself clear. What I was trying to say was that for the starting, and ostensibly well performing, qb of the Denver Broncos to be kicked out of a club in the Denver area, that's a human being who really must be quite stupid in the ways of interacting effectively with other human beings. I think my suspicions may have been correct.

112 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Well, it's a good thing, then, that I didn't say being down by 14 points in the 2nd half was garbage time. I would say it gets easier to move the ball on your own half of the field when down by more than 14 in the 2nd half. I'd also say that as one gets into the 4th quarter, being down more than 14 make it easier and easier to move the chains, until one gets into the red zone.

(edit) Eh, I see you weren't replying to me. I agree that calling a 14 point deficit in the 2nd half "garbage time", without qualification, is excessive.

102 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

As the resident Lions homer I must step up to defend Megatron's 2012. That year's Lions surely lost plenty of games, but there were only two losses where the score was hopelessly out of hand and there was a true "garbage time" (at Minnesota, and at Arizona). This is borne out by that year's team being around average in DVOA, but a lot of close, unluckly losses pushed them from .500 to 4-12.

My point is, they weren't getting blown out regularly, and 10 of their losses were still in doubt into the 4th quarter, so I think the garbage-time yards narrative is overstated in that situation. Barnwell had an article just after the season analyzing and debunking that very narrative.

That being said, I think your overall point is a good one.

124 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

The other thing to note (and I haven't had the time or inclination to go through and review all of them) is that a decent chunk of Cutler's turnovers have happened in those situations, as well. Now, unlike discounting INTs that happen on Hail Marys or that are clearly the receiver's fault, I don't necessarily think that an INT thrown when the team is down late is less indicative of the QB's quality of play. However, if one is going to say that the turnovers are the *reason* that the team is losing, then I think it's fair to discount the ones that happen when the game has basically been decided.

I know expecting the average football fan to think past simple stats is asking a lot, but I continue to be amazed by people who are seemingly more upset about Jay throwing a pick down 15+ points in the 4th quarter than about his inability to generate points in the first quarter or first half (even if he didn't turn the ball over in that time). After the Thanksgiving game I heard a caller on the radio complaining about the interception he threw, down 17 points, as the clock was about to run out in the 4th quarter...who cares?

146 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Now that I think about this, it may be interesting to develop a metric which joins qb DYAR to win probability on some sort of sliding scale, giving us a weighted DYAR that rewards good plays more when the game's outcome is more contestable, and penalizes bad plays less when the effect on the game's outcome is less changeable. For all I know, Aaron has done this, and found it to be not useful, but it is something that Cutler's performance this year makes me wonder about.

106 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I have to admit to coming away from every Bears game I've watched in recent years (not loads, but at least 2-3 every year) thinking that Cutler was awful or that the protection was so bad that it was impossible to say anything about him. I know he's had some decent games along the way, but I've never seen them.

The only thing that surprises me about Cutler is that the Bears retained him in the first place. I was expecting Cutler to be benched weeks ago, though I was unaware that the alternative was Clausen. That probably would have changed my opinion.

114 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

You people are being silly. This has the potential to be a win for Bears fans or Trestman.

Scenario 1: Jimmy Clausen is half decent. Trestman now looks good and gets an OC job elsewhere. No benefit to Bears fans.

Scenario 2: Jimmy Clausen is terrible, implicitly increase Jay Cutler's trade value. Possibly even with a good game in week 17 against a weaker Vikings defense (relative to the Lions).

119 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Charles Woodson probably has the best Cutler career summary of all time. "Same old Jay. We don't need luck. Jay will throw us the ball."

(I think it's on you Youtube. Woodson being interviewed after a Packers/Bears game)

125 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I've been trying to think this morning if there is any comparison in professional sports for a guy who is arguably the best at his position that his team has ever had (note, I'm not saying that makes Cutler great or even good in the scheme of things, just among the history of Bears QBs), has had zero off-the-field legal issues, yet is so thoroughly hated by most of the team's fans. Any thoughts?

131 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I'm a little skeptical about your assertion about McMahon, with the caveat that I only started watching the NFL from '89 onwards (so I'm only going by the numbers on PFR).

I don't think he has enough pass attempts to have any impressive DYAR seasons, but I could be wrong. As far as DVOA, his '84 season looks like it may be impressive, but the rest don't look that great, even considering the era he played in. Of course it may still be better than any of Cutler's Bears seasons.

Now I know it takes more than pretty numbers to make a good quarterback, but this discussion is strictly about numbers. I'd be interested to hear what your take is, Will.

129 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I wouldn't use "thoroughly hated" but Mike Schmidt isn't just indisputably the best Phillies 3rd basemen ever, but perhaps the greatest 3rd basemen ANY team has ever had, and won a World Series, and multiple divisions titles. It was not extremely unusual for a non-trivial number of idiot Phillie fans to boo him.

142 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Yeah, that's fair. I don't necessarily think that Cutler is better than McMahon or Luckman; my point is just that he's definitely one of the best QBs the team has had and is still despised largely for being (roughly) average.

I mean, I could understand it more if he had taken over for a HOFer and the fans were used to seeing historically great play. Although maybe the expectations for him would have been lower in that case.

148 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

Yeah. What I see as your fundamental starting point, that Cutler is way better than the vast bulk of Bears historic QBs is something I agree completely, and it is odd that he is then dis'ed. It would be one thing for the Bear Nation to be down on an average starter level RB or MLB but a QB? I can only figure the historical sense is not controlling, they look at the feature game QBs (Brady, Manning, and particularly Rodgers) and calibrate on them. At this point, as a Bears fan, I can only hope the Bears get lucky.

Slightly off your point, but I find it interesting to ask if QB play isn't so important now that to win a superbowl a team doesn't almost require a top QB or a run from an average QB where he plays like the top QBs (e.g., Flacco, E. Manning). I say 'almost' because of Dilfer and some other data points. If that is true-ish then moving on from Cutler may be reasonable.

166 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

As a Bears fan, I think it's a function of circumstance.

For years under Lovie Smith, it seemed the team had everything BUT a QB. Great defense. Solid, sometimes very good running game. Amazing special teams. There were several years where it seemed like the only thing keeping the Bears from rolling over the league were the bizarre follies of Rex Grossman and Co.

And then there was a trade for Cutler. Finally, it was fixed! Finally, the team is complete! Finally, we won't have to white-knuckle it through 16-10 victories largely brought by the defense and special teams. Finally!

Except the wins didn't come, the playoffs didn't come, the championships didn't come.

Basically, I think that the acquisition of Cutler was seen by the fanbase as the beginning of great things, and when it didn't happen, Cutler was the guy who who it all fell down on, as opposed to anyone else involved.

152 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I know it's forgotten by most people, but didn't Erik Kramer have one of the best single seasons by a QB in Bears history in 1995? He wouldn't be the only mediocre player to have one good fluke year, but I always thought highly of him, and thought it was a shame injuries prevented him from building on that year. On the other hand, he was 31 that year, so maybe he was just proto-Josh McCown.

140 Re: Bears Bench Cutler in Epic Fail (Not Fales)

I've been trying to think this morning if there is any comparison in professional sports for a guy who is arguably the best at his position that his team has ever had,has had zero off-the-field legal issues, yet is so thoroughly hated by most of the team's fans

Dwight Howard is probably the best player in Orlando Magic history (Shaq wasn't there long enough), and the entire fanbase hated him during and after his last-year Hamlet act.