Should the Bears Trade Cutler?
Bears quarterback needs sense of urgency
Cutler needs to believe there will be consequences if potential doesn't start getting results
In the Wake of the News
November 4, 2010
AdvertisementWith good humor Wednesday at Halas Hall, Jay Cutler responded to whether Mike Shanahan's 2-minute offense was more strenuous than most. Cutler played three seasons for Shanahan with the Broncos so naturally he could compare.
"I don't know,'' Cutler said with an actual smile. "You have to ask Donovan (McNabb) if they've changed it from whenever I had it. When I had it, I didn't think it was the most physically exerting thing.''
For Cutler, a stab at humor represents a 2010 breakthrough. Light-heartedness beats light-headedness any day.
The subject came up because Shanahan made the silly claim he inserted Rex Grossman for McNabb, the Redskins quarterback, with 1 minute, 50 seconds left in Sunday's game in part because of McNabb's conditioning.
But I suppose the better question to Cutler, the one unspoken but apparently obvious to Bears fans based on my inbox, is whether he wants to execute Shanahan's 2-minute drill again as early as next season.
Now is not the appropriate time for Cutler to address any possible reunion with Shanahan in Washington, but the idea that so much conversation in Chicago even would broach such trade folly 22 games into Cutler's Bears tenure indicates how quickly this supposed franchise quarterback has worn out his welcome to many.
I get the hypothetical. I know hometown darling McNabb, the anti-Cutler in terms of charisma, becomes a free agent in 2011 and the Bears desperately need draft picks, which Cutler could bring in return.
And if the Bears undergo a regime change that likely will occur if they miss the playoffs again, the next GM easily could view Cutler as a toxic influence who killed two coaching tenures.
But slow down. Consider any trade would put the Bears back in the spot of looking for a young quarterback to develop skills Cutler already possesses. Remember any typical football guy inheriting the Bears roster will look at Cutler's ability to do things only a handful of quarterbacks can do and believe he can be fixed. On film, Cutler's skills can be seductive and his flaws easier to accept.
That's what made trading for Cutler so exciting. Outsiders often see what they want to see. I did.
I understand now what was less obvious then. Cutler's unrelenting immaturity too often undermines his immense talent. And when he loses focus, he can lose teammates and games. That said, I still wouldn't trade a player the organization guaranteed $20 million who is still young enough to stop all those dreaded comparisons to Jeff George.
There's a difference in criticizing Cutler for his play of late and abandoning all hope that a gifted 27-year-old quarterback with no leadership skills to speak of can be rehabilitated.
Cutler doesn't need a trade to save his NFL life or the Bears from himself. He needs an intervention.
Admittedly, it may take Bill Cowher, Jim Harbaugh or Jeff Fisher — my early short list for potential Lovie Smith successors – to stage a successful one for Cutler. But if there's anybody in the organization interested in salvaging Cutler's final nine games this season, now would be a good time to deliver an urgent message that he must change.
If Cutler and his Cavallari attitude haven't noticed, this isn't going well.
Cutler has been sacked as many times in six games (27) as he was the entire 2007 season. A terrible offensive line and limited wide receivers give him a ready excuse. But his mechanics have deteriorated. He has developed sloppy habits and established bad trends. In 22 games with the Bears, Cutler has thrown four or more interceptions three times. He never did that in 37 starts with the Broncos.
He plays like someone who either hasn't been coached or is no longer willing to be. So coach him. Challenge him. Force greatness that is there.
Can you make a quarterback become a leader?
I have doubts Martz can. Martz has made a career out of designing ways to make quarterbacks pile up big numbers. What he has done mostly with Cutler is enlarge his ego. End the bro-mance. A struggling, self-destructive quarterback doesn't need to hear how brilliant he is. He needs to be threatened with his job if he throws four picks again.
The praise Martz lavishes on Cutler is as embarrassing as it is enabling.
If Martz strays from the run against the Bills' 32nd-ranked run defense and the lack of balance contributes to another loss, it will be time for the Bears to part company.
A smarter overall approach can save Martz's sagging reputation in Chicago.
And for all those ready to make an offseason deal, the same can be said for Cutler's career with the Bears.