The Curious Case of Jay Cutler

The only two things i took away from last nights dismal Bears – Giants game were:
1. Can the NFL cancel any remaining games the Giants have on primetime?
2. Will Jay Cutler every live up to his potential?

I loved Cutler coming out of Vanderbilt in the same draft as Vince Young and Matt Leinhart. I made it a point to say that he would be the best of the three. And a few years into their respective careers I looked right. I would have told you that Jay Cutler was on the path to becoming the best QB in the game. He was young, had a cannon for an arm and had already made a pro bowl. But the past couple years have seen him regress. He’s starting to look a lot more like Jeff George than Tom Brady.

I was one of his biggest apologists last year during his interception laced debut season with Chicago. “It’s a new system,” “The have no receivers,” “The Bears rely to much on him.” But then seeing him play this year I don’t see much improvement. Even under new offensive guru Mike Martz, every time Cutler drops back to pass you just know it’s going to be a bullet pass into tight coverage. Can you think of another QB whose every pass seems to be a pick waiting to happen? I can, it’s Cardinals’ Derek Anderson (who seems to have lost his job after another awful performance Sunday.) Anderson is a similarly strong-armed quarterback who repeatedly fires the ball all over the field. Not a good comparison if are Jay Cutler.

The conventional thought on Cutler is he has too much confidence in his arm and thinks he can make any throw. Often referred to as Brett Favre syndrome. Maybe he doesn’t think he can fit it into any window, maybe he just doesn’t know how to be a quarterback. Several times last night (even though he only played one half) the broadcasters pointed out open receivers that Cutler flat out didn’t throw to. Granted he was under pressure whenever he dropped back, but most of the time it was because he was holding on the ball too long. You’d think after the third or fourth sack in the first quarter he would begin to realize he wasn’t going to have all day in the pocket to make his reads. That’s what smart quarterbacks do, that’s what good quarterbacks do.

The NFL has seen tons of guys with crazy talent who never lived up to their potential, so this is nothing new. I still love Cutler’s raw talent and even though his career will probably be more successful than Young or Leinhart’s (and that’s not saying much), he can be so much more. Luckily he is young enough to where he can put it all together. But this Benjamin Button style progression of his could lead him to the Pop Warner league known as the UFL.

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