The Cutler Train She Ain't a Rollin'........................
Bears can't seem to get rolling with Cutler
QB may not be problem but he certainly can't be sole solution
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By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter 6:15 p.m. CDT, October 1, 2011
Jay Cutler was brought to Chicago billed as a once-in-a-generation talent.
The Bears gave up a king's ransom — their starting quarterback, two first-round draft picks and a third-rounder — to acquire Cutler from the Broncos in 2009. He was supposed to be everything Rex Grossman wasn't — big, strong, athletic and as accurate with the deep ball as anyone.
Along the way something hasn't clicked.
Cutler's starting record (18-16) is worse for the Bears than the man he replaced Kyle Orton (21-12) and the former first-round draft pick, Grossman (19-12), in a similar number of starts.
Cutler was supposed to be Superman but in Week 4 of his third season here the franchise is trying to figure out what is wrong with the offense.
The problem shouldn't be the quarterback.
Cutler passes the eye test and possesses physical tools Grossman and Orton can only dream about. He has a resume packed with production, throwing for more than 8,000 yards and 45 touchdowns in two seasons as a full-time starter for the Broncos.
But now, Cutler talks about being gun-shy after all the hits he has taken, an eye-opening admission.
"Talk to any quarterback. Whenever he is getting a lot of pressure, getting flushed and getting hit a lot, that clock in your head is going to be tinkered with a little bit," Cutler said. "It's going to start ticking a little bit faster. Even sometimes when you do have a good amount of time, you're going to be feeling it even if it's not there. It's a constant battle."
You can twist statistics to come up with numbers that say just about anything you want. The bottom line is winning and the Bears made the bold trade for Cutler with the belief they were getting a quarterback who would put them over the top.
Instead, the offense is as dysfunctional as it ever has been in 11 seasons under general manager Jerry Angelo, with the exception of the Terry Shea experiment in 2004.
"You win because of the quarterback," Angelo said after the 2008 season when he became hell-bent on addressing the position.
He backed up the talk with the trade, and now three of his 10 first-round draft picks have been committed to the position.
So why hasn't Cutler made the Bears more successful?
They reached the NFC championship game last year but crediting Cutler for guiding them would be akin to giving Grossman equal props for the team reaching the Super Bowl in 2006. The Bears went to a run-first attack in the second half of 2010 and combined solid defense with excellent special teams.
"Wow. Really?" said one NFC personnel director when presented with the Cutler-Orton-Grossman records.
Asked to explain it, he first pointed out Grossman and Orton had better offensive lines. Some veterans were not in their prime but center Olin Kreutz was in his. Cutler is working for his second offensive coordinator in three seasons. He went through a coordinator change with the Broncos too.
An NFC scout made the point the receivers aren't any better or worse than the Bears had with Grossman and Orton. The running game has been excellent at times for all three. The defense is a little older now.
It's as if the Bears counted on Cutler doing it by himself — making all of those around him better. The most significant addition made since he arrived is defensive end Julius Peppers, who was signed because coach Lovie Smith's defense no longer was working without a pass rush.
What about helping Cutler?
The most successful quarterback in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system was Kurt Warner. He and Cutler share a commonality. They're both right-handed.
Warner was extremely accurate but couldn't move in the pocket. Cutler is far more athletic and possesses a stronger arm.
But he has been forced into a system that has made him a pocket passer and stripped away some of his strengths. The Bears maintain that after a lengthy search Martz was their first choice as coordinator.
But instead of having him design the offense around Cutler, Martz has force-fit him and other players who don't exactly fit the Greatest Show on Turf into a box(with running back Matt Forte an exception).
Asked about the system, Cutler says he bought in from Day 1. He directs more detailed questions to Martz.
The burning question is whether he can excel without some playmakers around him. Would he then be a winner as the top-five passer the Bears celebrated acquiring?
Cutler is 28 and he's no longer a young gun on the rise. There's not a lot the Bears can do about that because just getting Cutler hasn't been enough.
Maybe it's time to start thinking about some other solutions.