Just over two years ago, I wrote this piece on Jay Cutler. I analyzed his mechanics and pointed out things he needed to improve on. We’ve all heard the excuses made for Cutler during his tenure with the Bears. “He needs a better offensive line, then he will be good.” “If the Bears could just get him some weapons, then he will be good.” “The Bears need an offensive minded coach who can help set up Cutler for success – then he’ll be good.”
General Manager Phil Emery was listening and made the supposed necessary changes. He traded for Brandon Marshall, drafted Alshon Jeffery and signed Martellus Bennett to give him weapons. He drafted Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, signed Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson to protect him as well. In 2013, Emery even hired Marc Trestman, who was deemed “The Quarterback Whisperer” to set up the offense.
In 2013, Chicago was second in the NFL in scoring offense with Cutler and Josh McCown being forced into action due to Cutler’s injury. But 2014 was going to be a career year for Cutler with all of those weapons back. Well, flash forward to a 5-7 Chicago Bears team that has Cutler leading the NFL in turnovers with 20. I’m going to use a Dennis Green line to show you, “Jay Cutler is who we thought he was!” But I’m not letting him off the hook, unlike Marc Trestman and all of his followers who continually make excuses for him.
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I’m going to point out eight plays from the second Green Bay game because they’re the most important opponent on the Bears schedule every season. It’s the very first drive of the game with a first and ten. The Bears scheme worked well here with Martellus Bennett (yellow circle) wide open in the flat and Alshon Jeffery (red circle) open as well. Jeffery appears to be the initial read for Cutler and the offensive line provided ample time for the throw.
A split second later, Cutler didn’t pull the trigger and turns his attention to the middle of the field. The problem is Chicago doesn’t have a receiver in the middle of the field. No rush is in Cutler’s face either, so I’m not sure why he even looks there. The next read in the progression should’ve been Bennett (yellow circle), yet Cutler doesn’t even glance at him.
From a different angle, you can see that Cutler has plenty of time to make a proper throw or maybe run for a couple of yards. Again, what in the world is he looking at?
A couple of seconds later, Clay Matthews is closing in on Cutler. When he had multiple seconds to throw the football, Cutler decided the best decision in all that time was to throw at Jeffery’s feet.
The second play I want to look at is after the Packers scored their first touchdown of the game. It’s again first and ten, multiple seconds into the play and the Bears are max protected. Josh Morgan (yellow circle) is running a deep post, Marshall (red circle) is finding a hole in the zone in the middle of the field, and Jeffery (orange circle) is simply there for spacing to stretch the defense. Cutler is staring down Morgan and Green Bay safety Ha-Ha Clinton Dix (black circle) is following his eyes across the field.
Only a split second later, Cutler is about to throw to Morgan (yellow circle) and it’s a tight window. However, look at Marshall (red circle) in the middle of the field. He found a hole in the zone and he settled into it. That would be an easy reception because the safety has already turned his hips to follow Morgan deep. Understanding concepts and taking what the defense gives you doest look to be a strength of Jay Cutler.
This may be the ultimate play to reveal Cutler is indeed holding back the Chicago offense this season. It’s again first and ten with Green Bay up by 14 points early in the game and making a big play would be, you know, very important. Jeffery (yellow circle) smoked Sam Shields off the line. The best part is the safety (black circle) is rotating to the middle of the field.
This is only a second later, but Jeffery has more than a step on Shields and Cutler is looking right in his direction. The safety is now in the middle of the field making this is an easy pass and completion for that much needed big play for the Bears. Jeffery gave Cutler plenty of room to throw this football away from defenders and not being near the sideline for the completion. Cutler could throw a laser to Jeffery, loft it in front of him, or lead it over his outside shoulder.
Instead, Cutler makes a poorly underthrown pass and Jeffery has to literally stop to work back to the football. He also threw it on the inside towards the safety – this is one of the worst possible scenarios.
From another angle, you can see Jeffery almost comes down with it between two defenders because he’s a special player. However, the end result is an incomplete pass, after what appeared to be a very promising start. I know what some of you are thinking – Cutler must have had defenders in his face.
This is the pocket surrounding Cutler on the throw and it’s extremely clean. He could even step up in the pocket to get more on it.
Instead, Cutler fades away and if you compare the previous image to this one, he worked backwards when throwing the football. His feet are in a less than parallel position, indicating a fade away motion as well. One defender is falling to the ground a yard away from Cutler, but otherwise he has no reason for this. Otherwise, this is just another example of Jay being Jay.
Cutler has a clean pocket on this play and is throwing the ball to Marshall (black circle). As you can see, the defender is undercutting the route and Marshall isn’t open. However, Jeffery (yellow circle) is wide open running an out with his defender having already opened his hips to turn and run. Bennett (blue circle) is open on a check down as well. Not quite sure why Cutler wouldn’t scan the field and throw it to an open player.
Here it’s third and goal and Cutler is going to throw it to Bennett (black circle) on a combination route with Marshall getting in the way of the only defender who can stop Bennett to the end zone. Cutler’s feet (blue circle) are terrible when he has time in the pocket – this forces him to make the throw just a little wide and high off of Bennett’s hands. Now it’s possible for Bennett to catch this, but with better accuracy it was an easy touchdown. I also want to highlight Josh Morgan (yellow circle) breaking wide open across the field, while his defender still hasn’t made a move inside. Having two players open and not getting a touchdown is unacceptable.
Its second and 18 late in the game and Cutler will check down to Matt Forte (black circle) for a short gain. This makes it a more manageable third down, I understand that. But Cutler has no pressure thanks to a clean pocket. Why is he rushing to throw a check down? If he would keep his eyes downfield, he would see Jeffery (yellow circle) breaking wide open as his defender still has his hips turned and running downfield – this would’ve resulted in at least 5 more yards and a much shorter third down opportunity.
It’s fourth down and goal, Cutler is going to throw to Jeffery (black circle), but he hasn’t made any separation from his defender and isn’t in the end zone. Now what sense does it make to throw to a covered receiver short of the goal line on fourth down? However, Marshall (yellow circle) is running a wide open slant backside and is in the end zone.
This is Cutler’s body language and feet after throwing it Jeffery’s direction. Shields should’ve intercepted this pass and returned it for a touchdown, but Cutler got lucky. Instead, he just turned the ball over near the goal line because he threw to a covered receiver.
As a Bears fan who watches this happen every week, I’m sick of it. In my opinion, Cutler will not be anything except a below average quarterback in the NFL. He is still going to not progress through his reads to find the open receiver. Cutler will continue to feel uncomfortable in the pocket and not step into his throws when no defenders are pressuring him – this will force inexcusably inaccurate passes and miss open receivers. Lastly, he will always turn the ball over costing his team wins. It would be in Chicago’s best interest to move on from Cutler because he’s not going to lead them to anywhere but mediocrity. He’ll likely do the same to your dynasty team.