The last time I wrote about our Chicago Bears for the Daily News, I sung the praises of a young Sid Luckman who thrilled the nation with his T-formation on the way to championship glory. For the first time since Luckman dominated the 1940’s, Bears’ fans have something to get truly excited about regarding the quarterback position. In trading for Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears have themselves a state of the art quarterback for the first time since World War II. It’s an odd feeling to be drooling about football ten minutes away from Major League Baseball’s opening day, but here we are…
Let’s just take a minute and chew on the many reasons that I was excited enough upon hearing of the Cutler trade that I had to immediately change (and launder) my shorts.
*Cutler is a 25 year old entering his prime. He is coming off of a Pro Bowl season in which he threw for over 4,500 yards. No Bears QB has ever thrown for more than 3838 in any one season (Erik Kramer, 1995). Moses Moreno has never driven a car 4,500 yards in any one calendar year. Anyway you want to dissect the numbers; the Chicago Bears have never had a player like Cutler at the helm.
*Cutler can make throws most QBs can’t make, and he can certainly make more throws than we’re used to seeing on Sundays. Not only does Cutler have one of the strongest arms in the NFL, he also has the accuracy and touch to make it count. His mere presence will force opposing defenses to defend the entire field and open up space for Matt Forte. Perhaps with someone as gifted at throwing the deep ball as Cutler is, Devin Hester’s most dangerous play will no longer be cashing in on pass interference calls.
*Jay Cutler is a Midwest guy (Santa Claus, Indiana) and knows what it takes to play quarterback in Midwestern weather conditions. Sure Rex is from Indiana too, but Rex isn’t a 6’3” 230 lb beast. On top of all that, Cutler grew up a Bears fan and will be especially driven to win with his childhood team.
* Cutler has shifty feet to go with his cannon arm. While he’s no speedster, Cutler has that elusive, shifty quality that can keep plays alive. In short, Cutler is a pocket passer who can decide where he wants his pocket to be. With Orlando Pace now in the mix on an already solid line, Cutler should have time to do his thing. Throughout the modern era of football, Bears QBs have been best known for their intangibles. Jay Cutler has tangible ability that will immediately make the Bears a multi-dimensional threat to score points. Should the Bears keep the ball rolling and grab a free agent receiver off the market (Holt and Harrison are still out there), the Bears could potentially be driven by one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. Yes, the Chicago Bears.
*It’s going to be fun to see how this city responds to a QB who is supposed to be good. Will the Grabowski’s accept Cutler’s new found prima donna status? Incomplete passes? Interceptions? Injuries? Will Bears purists be able to exist without a steady diet of savagely brutal 3-and-outs? All I know is that it is going to be worth the price of admission to watch this situation play out.
To the pessimists out there, I understand where you’re coming from. We’re all Bears fans here, and I know we’ve all been hurt before… but, believe me, the addition of Jay Cutler is nothing but a good thing.
*To those of you who say we’ve mortgaged the future by trading so many high draft picks, I say go spit! The best case scenario for the Bears in the draft is to find a player who could make an impact like a Jay Cutler. Cutler is a proven talent and there are no guarantees in the NFL draft… just ask Cedric Benson, David Terrell, Cade McNown, Michael Haynes, Alonzo Spellman or Curtis Enis (if you can find any of them). We should be nothing but thankful that this disgruntled talent fell into our laps. We haven’t mortgaged the future, we’ve finally found one.
*To those of you who shudder at Cutler’s 18 interceptions last year, I say poppycock! Brett Favre threw a lot of picks and things worked out pretty well for him. You can deal with a pick or two when you can move the ball up and down the field like Cutler can.
*To those of you who think Cutler is a whiney, pouty bitch… I say that he is a young man with a ton of pride. Cutler never griped until he felt betrayed by the Broncos and their new, 32-year-old coach’s pursuit of Matt Cassel. This feud in Denver was a fight between two, strong willed young men… it happens. Quarterback guru Mike Shanahan had no problems with Cutler. Cutler felt like he was stabbed in the back... what kind of competitor would sit back and digest that insult quietly?
Grabbing Cutler was the chance of a generation for the Chicago Bears, and for once, they took it. For once in a lifetime, the biggest play of the NFL off-season was made out of Halas Hall. The Bears didn’t take a flier on Rick Mirer… they didn’t bag on old Moose off the range. The Bears landed the big dog, and the ripples of this deal will be felt around the NFL for years to come.
One thing I know for sure… whether he flops or flourishes, the Cutler move will define Jerry Angelo in Chicago sports history one way or the other. Does this bold move completely vindicate Angelo? No, only a Lombardi trophy is going to do that, but at least for once, it feels like Angelo and the Bears took a big step in the right direction.
The last time the Bears had a pro-bowl quarterback was Jim McMahon back in the Super Bowl season of 1985. McMahon threw 15 TDs vs. 11 picks during that glorious season… it was his only Pro Bowl appearance. Sid Luckman was the NFL MVP in 1943. Luckman (a single wing QB in college) guided the Bears to 4 NFL titles while amassing a 75.0 career passer rating. Historically speaking, when the Bears have a good quarterback, they win.
Here’s to hoping that history repeats itself.
In case you have blocked this information from your memory, here is the list of QBs who have started for the Bears since Jim McMahon (a man who nearly blinded himself while trying to untie a knot with a fork).
Steve Fuller – ran like lightning, passed like thunder
Mike Tomczack – strong armed QB could overthrow Manute Bol in a phone both
Will Furrer – not affiliated with the 3rd Reich in any way
Jim Harbaugh – decent player after he got out of the shadow of Ditka’s restaurant
Peter Tom Willis – proof positive that people with 3 names make better serial killers than QBs
Shane Matthews – many believe that Shane was dead on his horse at the end of his run. Little known fact, Alan Ladd can actually throw a football farther than Shane Matthews.
Erik Kramer – Bears record holder in passing yards for one season… for now
Steve Walsh – Brandon and Kelly’s illegitimate brother from 90210
Steve Stenstrom – Isn’t a Stenstrom a kind of cowboy hat?
Dave Krieg – actually backed up Luckman for the Bears in the late 40’s.
Rick Mirer – the fighting Irish long for the Rick Mirer era of respectability
Moses Moreno – led Bears to promise land… he didn’t make many big promises.
Cade McNown – handicapped parking placard may have been legit after all
Jim Miller – new MLB steroid policy ruined his shot at a twilight baseball career
Henry Burris – I think he’s currently the junior senator from Illinois… for now
Chris Chandler – not only a client for the hair club for men… he’s also the quarterback
Cory Sauter – best Bears QB named Cory ever
Kordell Stewart – seemed like a really nice guy
Craig Krenzel – born in Michigan, went to Ohio State… what’s that all about
Jonathan Quinn – has no outstanding debts
Chad Hutchinson – compiled a 24.75 career era in the Major Leagues
Jeff Blake – I think he sold me a frappachino the other day
Brian Griese – once broke his ankle by falling over his dog
Rex Grossman – we’ll always have 2006
Kyle Orton – future Hall of Famer?
If this list doesn’t force you to welcome Jay Cutler with open arms, nothing will. I know it’s a foreign feeling for us, Bears fans… but the time has come to be genuinely exited about the offense, especially the guy running the show.