This is the last season of Jay Cutler as the Chicago Bears starting quarterback. It has to be, right?
It seems that for the last four years, each season is supposed to be the last one of Cutler as the team’s starting quarterback. But in 2013 he got a 7-year deal amid all the rumors of the Bears going in a different direction. It was too expensive to cut him before, but next season it becomes too affordable not do it.
But this isn’t news, is it? The Bears front office seems to have this love-hate relationship with Cutler for years. However, this season, the worst of the Cutler era in Chicago, there’s even more yo-yoing around. We’ve heard Cutler is out for the season about 3 or 4 times, and then that he’s back. I think the coaching staff doesn’t believe in him anymore, but Cutler remains their best quarterback. It’s probably best for the team to tank, but Cutler, sometimes, makes them look respectable on the field, which is something the other quarterbacks the Bears have available (Brian Hoyer is out for the season) can’t do.
Assuming this is the final hoorah for Cutler with the Bears, one has to wonder if he’ll start somewhere next season. One of the theories about Cutler is that he’s coasted his entire career. He had the talent to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but a combination of never having a solid offensive line for too long, and not having the right kind of attitude to overcome difficult situations, resulted in his lackluster career perception, even if he’s had quite a lot of good moments. The Bears kept winning games in 2011 and 2012, but since then it’s gotten uglier and uglier every year.
The Bears tried changing things up with Marc Trestman and it blew up in their face. The Jon Fox era, due to injuries mostly but not just, might end abruptly, well before anyone thought it would happen. The Bears need to start over from scratch next season, but one has to wonder if they could have done it a long time ago. Cutler has been falling along with his team for three or four years now. Somehow, everyone seemed to feel that the right thing would be moving on, and yet no one did the right thing. It’s not Cutler’s fault that people were willing to pay him that kind of money and keep him in a job that he stopped deserving. However, it’s the Bears organization and fans that pay.
Maybe blaming Cutler for everything wrong in Chicago football over the last six years is a bit over the top. The defense declined from elite into a joke without bringing in new talent. The offensive line was good enough for maybe one season. The Bears let talent slip away without finding proper replacements. It’s much bigger than just quarterback dysfunction. But the Bears inability to compete with the best in the NFC in the last 8 seasons is a failure that will always be attached to one name and face: That of Jay Cutler.