What Makes a Franchise Quarterback?
The more I think about the “fans” ripping on the Jay Cutler deal and ripping on Cutler in general, the more it annoys me. What has every good QB in the history of the game had in common? Consistency of (1) good coaching (2) good offensive system and (3) good offensive line (O-line).
Tom Brady? Has had one coach (Bill Belichick) his entire career and great offensive coordinators. He also had great O-lines who allowed him time to pass.
Peyton Manning? Had one coach (Tony Dungy) the majority of his career in Indy and good offensive coordinators. Also was one of the least sacked QBs in history. Oh and for as good a QB is Manning, he’s only gotten to the Super Bowl twice. And was known as a “choker” and predicted to be the next Dan Marino (great stats, no Super Bowl) until he finally pulled off a win vs the Patriots in 2006 to get to the Super Bowl. But he has more 1st Round “chokes” than he does long playoff runs.
Joe Montana? Had Bill Walsh and George Seifert as well as an amazing offensive system with the West Coast Offense and a great O-line.
Steve Young? Same situation as Joe Montana.
Dan Marino? Had Don Shula the majority of his career.
Bret Favre? Had Mike Holmgrem and the same offensive system the majority of his career.
Aaron Rodgers? He got to sit behind Bret Favre for 3 years to master the offense, then has had Mike McCarthy — a good head coach and great offensive mind — his entire career as head coach.
John Elway? Had Dan Reeves for years and then Mike Shanahan for years, including the 2 Super Bowl seasons.
That consistency of system and leadership makes a HUGE difference in a player’s and a team’s success.
Now let’s take a look at Jay Cutler.
2006-2008, he worked with Mike Shanahan. He had his best year in his 3rd year, which makes sense, since that is the typical amount of time it takes to master an offensive system, especially coming out of college.
In 2009, he’s traded to the Bears. New coaches (Lovie Smith, Ron Turner), new offensive system to learn (conservative, run-first offense), new players with whom to develop chemistry (went from #1 WR of Brandon Marshall in Denver to now having to throw to Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox).
In 2010, Bears fired their entire offensive coaching staff. Cutler now has to learn a new system and work with new coaches (Mike Martz as OC). Martz’s system of deep routes and 7-step drops got Cutler killed with hits and sacks for 2 years in 2010 and 2011.
In 2012, Mike Martz left as OC and Mike Tice became OC. Yet another coach and another offensive system to learn. Bears went from Martz’s wide open offense to Mike Tice’s ridiculously conservative offense.
And then this past year in 2013, he has yet ANOTHER change in head coach and offensive coaching staff and system to learn. This time, he finally has someone who knows how to create on offense, has weapons around him and has a good OL and he has the best season of his career.
Yet, despite that, Bears “fans” want to dump him.
I’d like to know how other people would do, through an 8 year career, having to go through 2 teams, 3 head coaches, 5 different offensive coordinators and systems — not to mention an offensive line that has gotten him KILLED each of his years in Chicago, including getting sacked EIGHT times in part of a game against the Giants that led to him having a concussion. That is a complete lack of stability and security there. New systems almost every 2 years. And yet people are complaining that he is not an elite QB like the ones I mentioned above.
Well gee freaking whiz, I wonder why other QBs are able to develop and improve when they are in stable, consistent systems with the same head coach and same offensive systems, but Cutler isn’t when he has to deal with new coaches and new systems every other damn year, and being planted on his ass 2-3 times per game and running for his life almost every drop back, because his offensive line sucks. Let’s see all you jackasses adapt to that and perform well each year and improve.
The Bears have FINALLY put it all together on offense, have the 2nd ranked scoring offense in the league, have a head coach who has developed a great relationship with Cutler and helped him to his best season of his career and… “fans” want to dump him.
What an absolute joke.
And for those complaining Cutler was “overpaid”, read this: Jay Cutler: Analyzing the Terms of His New Contract
Why the Bears Did It
The contract, essentially a three-year deal with a team option to make it a four-, five-, six- or seven-year deal, gives Phil Emery and the Bears coaching staff some flexibility. If they want to stick it out with Cutler, they can. If they want to go down a younger route after three years, they don’t have to put all their stock into one draft—they can assess each year’s crop of quarterbacks, and, with Cutler in their back pocket, proceed accordingly.
With so many issues to address on defense, the Bears’ General Manager may have figured, when it comes to the quarterback position, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.” Cutler ranked eighth in the NFL in ESPN’s Total QBR and put up his best statistical season since arriving in Chicago.
Why Cutler Did It
Cutler gets a big payday, signing bonus or not. And with the huge payouts in the first three years of the deal, it’s likely that he’ll remain the starter over those years. Chicago’s supporting cast on offense is as strong as any in the NFL; after putting up the best quarterback rating of his career in Marc Trestman’s system, staying in Chicago is a prudent career decision.
Because the fourth and fifth years of the contract are the least expensive, $12.5 and $13.5 million plus bonuses, Cutler remains an attractive option over those years. So the deal, while it looks like it guarantees three more years of Cutler, could very well be five years of Cutler as long as he plays at a passing level.
Regardless of money, the agreement makes sense on several levels for Cutler and the Bears.
Not only will one of the league’s most productive offenses stay intact, but the rock-solid relationship between head coach and quarterback will get an opportunity to live on past the 11 games Cutler started this season.
Instead of starting over at the position, the Bears will keep Cutler, a fringe top-15 quarterback, and bank on more of the kind of improvement seen in his one season under Trestman.
And there’s no discounting the fact that locking up Cutler now gives the Bears maximum draft capital to fix a defense that was mostly to blame for Chicago’s 8-8 season.
Critics of the deal will point to Cutler’s injury history, or his propensity to throw interceptions, or the fact that the Bears have been to the playoffs once in his five years in Chicago. But this was a good decision for the future of the Bears.
In just one season, Trestman took a middling, inconsistent offense and turned it into one of the NFL’s best. And Cutler was right at the center of the improvement.
The Bears finished the 2013 season ranked second in points (27.8), behind only the record-setting Denver Broncos. The offense was also third in yards per play (6.0), eighth in total yards (381.8 per game) and total first downs (344), fifth in passing yards (267.6 per game), passing touchdowns (32) and net yards per attempt (7.0) and seventh in yards per rush (4.5).
The offense set new team records for total yards, passing yards, passing touchdowns, first downs and passer rating (96.9). The 445 points were second most in franchise history.
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