9:58 AM CST, December 18, 2012
Here’s the thing about Jay Cutler’s throw that was sort of aimed at Devin Hester during yet another miserable Cutler performance in yet another aggravating loss to the Packers:
It was so bad and such a turning point that even Lovie Smith, long the protector of players no matter how many fairy tales it took to spin, seemed to blame the quarterback for making a throw he absolutely couldn’t afford to make.
Cutler’s customary Green Bay gag reflex became the biggest play in the Bears’ sixth straight loss to the Packers. It was a play that can’t happen. It is a play that always happens when Cutler plays the Packers. The Packers have said that Cutler will throw them the ball and he did because he always does.
And so, there is a real question whether Cutler ever will be an elite quarterback. A Super Bowl quarterback. Being the best quarterback in Bears history doesn’t mean you’re an elite quarterback, it means the gene pool has been a joke.
Cutler has to be considered a good quarterback right now. That’s my designation. Your mileage may vary. I’m basing this on his physical skills. But is this as good as he gets?
Because those skills and the full measure of Cutler's emotional, mental and physical game at the most important position on the field seem to go right into the toilet not only against the Packers but against most of the better teams.
This a particularly acute development this season, as the Bears first failed against the best opponents and then couldn’t beat the bad ones, either, as the offense averaged 14.2 points a game in the last six weeks, five of which are losses.
We always want to know why, and we almost never blame Cutler. I'm starting to feel like a coddling parent. You name it, and Cutler has gotten the benefit of the excuses since he got here.
The offensive line, for instance, always seems to be in chaos. But look, Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more than Cutler this season, and Rodgers was so much the better quarterback on the field Sunday that Cutler might as well have been Josh McCown.
The fake wide receivers and musical offensive coordinators also get some play in defense of Cutler, and I’ve been one of those defenders.
But eventually, people will notice that the one common variable is Cutler.
I mean, just look at last offseason, also known as Cutler’s Extended Christmas: He got Mike Martz launched, he got a flexible offensive coordinator in Mike Tice, he got his own quarterback wrangler in Jeremy Bates, and he got BFF wideout Brandon Marshall.
And he has produced the worst offense of his Bears career --- worse than the offense for which Kyle Orton was the designated driver --- and one of the worst offenses in the league.
Cutler is throwing to a receiver who already has set a franchise record for catches, and yet, Cutler’s passing game is nearly as embarrassing as the aerial attack quarterbacked by the immortal Ryan Lindley for this week’s opponent Arizona.
But wait. There’s more embarrassment. Cutler’s passing offense ranks below Blaine Gabbert’s.
I wish I was making that up. The Bears wish I was making that up.
The Bears are collapsing the way they did last season, but Cutler was injured to set off that fall from the playoffs. Cutler is playing this season. So are Marshall and Matt Forte, two other players who weren’t here during last season’s plummet, which means this season’s death spiral is all about execution, starting with a quarterback looking for, what, a $30 million or $40 million payday.
Make that a much-concussed quarterback looking for, what, a $30 million or $40 million payday.
That expensive gamble has to make Bears wonks choke at Halas Hall the way Cutler and his offense have on the field.
This has nothing to do with his Cutler’s pouty faces or animated hissyfits. This has everything to do with results. You are allowed to be considered a pretty, shiny thing for only so long, and here’s why: Quarterbacks have to win. Period. Paragraph. It’s an unforgiving deal.
What’s more, you don’t get Jacksonville and Tennessee in the playoffs. You get Green Bay and San Francisco and Houston. You have to beat good teams and even great teams to be a last team standing. That starts with the quarterback. Unfortunately for the Bears, many times it ends right there, too.
I’m starting to understand why people in Denver laughed at me and a lot of us who were thrilled when Cutler came to town.
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