Search This Blog

Monday, December 30, 2013

What Should The Bears Do With Jay Cutler?

The short answer: Truthfully? I have no idea.

And frankly neither do you, because I don't think there is a correct answer to this question. Many Bears fans would disagree, and after back up Josh McCown defeated the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Monday Night in early November, a good majority of Bears fans decided they'd prefer to let Jay Cutler walk and stick with McCown.

After the 2013 NFL season concluded, that suggestion, which seemed extremely short sighted in the middle of the season, isn't a half bad suggestion at the end of the season. McCown started 5 games for the Bears and played in another 3. In that span he completed 66.5% of his passes, and he threw 13 TDs versus only one interception. He actually ended with THE BEST QBR out of every quarterback (including Peyton Manning) in 2013 with an 85.1 (out of 100).

However, during that span, he faced some pretty horrific defenses which included the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, and Minnesota Vikings. He struggled against better defenses such as the St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens.

I think the bigger question isn't whether Josh McCown will replace Jay Cutler if the Bears refuse to go after Cutler / don't sign him, but which quarterback will. It's no guarantee that McCown will even resign with the Bears. Not only are there reports that McCown will retire, but he is also now a free agent. Last year McCown made $865,000. Chances are good that he'll be able to get a few more sheckles than that from any other team in the league. If the Bears choose to make McCown their starter, even for the short term, they will still have to pay him like a starter.

Let's say that the Bears think Cutler is worth less than what he's asking for and McCown doesn't end up playing for the Bears- something that could easily happen. Who would then play quarterback for the Bears?

The other two free agent quarterbacks this year (besides Cutler and McCown) are Michael Vick and Josh Freeman. I personally want absolutely no part of Michael Vick. If Bears fans are upset at Cutler now, then they haven't seen anything yet with Michael Vick.

Now Josh Freeman, on the other hand, I kind of like. I know it seems weird to say I like a QB who was dropped by his team mid season and could barely find a home afterwards versus hating on Michael Vick, but I stand by my sentiment. Freeman is a former first round draft pick and is only 25 years old. He's 6'6" and has a strong arm. I believe that Freeman's problems aren't physically based, they're mentally based. I think his former coach Greg Schiano was terrible for him and unnecessarily threw Freeman under the bus. Marc Trestman, on the other hand, could be great for Freeman. Colloquially known around the league as "The Quarterback Whisperer" coupled with a surprisingly good offensive line and amazing receiving and rushing weapons, Trestman and the Chicago Bears could be a great fit for Freeman while also saving the Bears some money. (Freeman only made 2.83 million last year and is considered "damaged goods" by the league).

There is, however, one more quarterback that I think will be available, and that's Matt Schaub. Schaub was Michael Vick's back up in Atlanta who was traded to the Houston Texans where he shined. Schaub has completed 64% of his passes in his career, and has 130 TDs to only 84 INTs. (In comparison, Jay Cutler has a 61% completion percentage and 155 TDs to 112 INTs). Schaub is 2 years older than Cutler, but didn't start playing everyday until he got traded 3 years into his career. I think Schaub is pretty comparable to Cutler in almost every way (even including the injury history) except that he turns the ball over less and will be (I assume) considerably cheaper.

However, there's still a huge risk on the part of the Bears if they go out and get another veteran QB that's not Cutler. As much as I truly do like Josh Freeman, there's ample evidence to suggest he's an atrocious quarterback. Josh McCown played great in limited time, but this is still a 34 year old journeyman who hasn't really had any sort of NFL success before this year and who also has shown he can't make make some pretty basic clutch throws. Matt Schaub is the best proven commodity but a) the Bears better make sure he's even actually available and b) there's still a huge risk with him after the way he's played this season and his age and injury history.

Really, Jay Cutler is the best and most realistic option the Bears have right now. As frustrated as we as Bears fans can be in Jay Cutler, he is a top tier quarterback in the league. Teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and Cleveland Browns would kill to have a quarterback as good as Jay Cutler. Is Cutler as good as a Peyton Manning or Drew Brees? Absolutely not, and he probably never will be. But he he as good as Andy Dalton or Philip Rivers or Nick Foles (whose teams just made the playoffs)? Absolutely. I think he's better than Joe Flacco who recently won a Super Bowl. I think he's better than Matthew Stafford who Terry Bradshaw called the best quarterback in the game at one point this season. The point is, quarterbacks as good as Jay Cutler is, with his flaws and all, just don't grow on trees. And while the market dictates whatever Cutler will get in the open market is probably an overpay, it's still fair market value.

Here are a list of players that started NFL games in 2013: Blaine Gabbert, Case Keenum, Matt McGloin, Matt Flynn, Matt Cassell, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weedon, Brian Hoyer, Seneca Wallace, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Christian Ponder and Chad Henne. Ask the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, or Minnesota Vikings how easy it is to get even a competent quarterback. All three teams have been looking to get a franchise guy for a long time, and still haven't been able to find one. The best quarterback the Arizona Cardinals have been able to find since Kurt Warner left was Carson Palmer- and even that was a struggle.

However, all that being said, the Bears do have one more option at QB if they don't want to re-sign Cutler- and that's to draft a quarterback. The immediate flaw in that scenario is to look right back to the Jaguars, Browns, and Vikings. All three drafted a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft. Recently. The 2011 draft was considered to be very QB rich (just like the 2014 draft) which led the Jaguars to draft Blaine Gabbert 10th overall, and the Vikings to draft Ponder 12th overall. A year later the Browns drafted Weedon in the first round. Jake Locker was the 2nd QB off of the board in 2011, and while he did show great improvements for the Tennessee Titans in 2013, I don't know that any Titans fans would call Locker a success just yet.

The counter-argument is that the Cincinnati Bengals (Dalton), San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick), Philadelphia Eagles (Foles), and Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson) were all able to get a young, franchise quarterback in the second round or later. And while I would love for the Chicago Bears to get a franchise quarterback who is young and cost efficient like those quarterbacks are, the odds are still against them.

Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, E.J. Manuel, and yes Jay Cutler are all first round draft picks that are also starting quarterbacks. That doesn't include guys like Locker, Ponder, and Weedon who lost their jobs because they were hurt. There's also Drew Brees who although was technically drafted in the second round, he was the first pick in the second round- so... close enough.

Even if the Bears do decide they want to part with Cutler and draft a quarterback, they do not have a high draft pick. That means are assuredly not going to get Teddy Bridegwater or Johnny Manziel. Those are the only two quarterbacks I think are worth taking. Now I do trust Bears GM Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman to draft a quarterback in this year's draft if that is the route they choose to take. Trestman has proven himself time and time again to know what the hell he's doing both as a QB coach and as an offensive mind. Also, Emery has made great decision after great decision which includes drafting Alshon Jeffrey, Kyle Long, and Jordan Mills, trading for Brandon Marshall, signing Jerrod Bushrod, Matt Slauson, and Martellius Bennett and of course, hiring a CFL coach named Marc Trestman. Everything Phil Emery has done to improve this Bears offense has worked.

Frankly, we as Bears fans need to trust whatever decision Emery and Trestman make. These two men are smarter than you and I when it comes to running the Chicago Bears, and I think they have earned the right to decide how to run this franchise. Emery knows how good Cutler is, especially compared to the QB market as it currently stands, and he also knows it will be pricey to sign Cutler. The solution may be to place the franchise tag on Cutler for one year, and then find money in the cap for Cutler in 2015.

What do I think the Chicago Bears should do? I have no idea. I was all on board with re-signing Cutler long term, and this was at the pinnacle of Josh McCown hype train. However, seeing Cutler play the final 2 games sort made me change my mind on him, but then he lit up the Packers in the second half of the final game and scored the go-ahead TD to Brandon Marshall (on an amazing pass that Josh McCown would have never made) made me change my mind again.

It's extremely frustrating watching Jay Cutler play football sometimes, and I can understand why Bears fans are so upset with him to the point where they don't want him as the QB of their team anymore. The problem is that this feeling is based off of raw emotion and not rational thought (at least for the vast majority of Bears fans).

Whatever the Bears do at quarterback for next year is fine with me. I just want every single Chicago Bears fan to relax about your strong willed opinion- especially the anti-Cutler sentiment. I'm not saying you can't be upset at how Jay Cutler plays football, I'm just saying if you feel that way, it should be based upon rational thoughts and not irrational ones- like post anti-Cutler venom seems to come from. I'm disappointed at my brethren for having this much hate about their quarterback. Bears fans (of course this is just generally speaking) seem to forget how truly dreadful this position used to be for this franchise. At worst Jay Cutler is the Bears third best QB behind Sid Luckman and Jim McMahon (personally, I rank Cutler second). Between 1989 (McMahon's last year with the team) and 2008, the Bears have had at least 18 different starting quarterbacks including Rex Grossman, Erik Kramer, Chris Chandler, Cade McNown, Kordell Stewart, and Kyle Orton. After Grossman and Orton weren't working out, trading for Jay Cutler was a Godsend. Except for a small minority (one of which included a caller who said on ESPN that the Bears should not have traded away Orton in the Cutler deal as he wanted both Cutler and Orton to compete for the starting job- further proof that Bears fans can be huge dummies sometimes), Chicago was ecstatic that it finally had a real and competent quarterback under center, and a starter that made Bears fans actually dismiss the back up QB for once. How far we as fans have come in the past five years.

For all those who still want Cutler out of Chicago, that's fine. I just want you people to think about the alternative. Think about a realistic solution that's not only more cost effective than what it will take to re-sign Cutler, but most importantly, one that means the Bears have a good offense in the upcoming years.A cheap QB doesn't do you any good if he can't keep drives alive.

What do you think the Chicago Bears should do for their quarterback position next year?

If you would like to comment on this post, please visit our facebook page