Michael Knight on Jay Cutler: Average Despite His Skillset and Accolades

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The Bears’ Jay Cutler was named the starting QB against the Vikings on Monday night.

What does being back on the roster mean for a player like Jay Cutler? I’ll get to that.

But first, how did Cutler get to this point? He was arguably born with as much raw talent as any player in the NFL. He’s tall, good looking and can throw a football 60 yards with pinpoint accuracy. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. He dazzled as a rookie out of Vanderbilt with his effortless, natural ability to play quarterback. He was the 11th player taken in the 2006 NFL draft and made the Pro Bowl in 2008 with Denver.

Despite all those accolades, Jay Cutler has turned out to be an average quarterback at best. Most would say he’s been on the roster, but he’s never been “on the team.”

Cutler was traded to the Bears in 2009. The headline from ESPN read something like this: “The Chicago Bears acquired disgruntled Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade on Thursday afternoon, giving up quarterback Kyle Orton and first-round picks in 2009 and 2010, along with a third-round pick in 2009.” 

After joining the Chicago Bears, Cutler had sporadic success with the team advancing to the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers in 2011. With the Bears trailing 14-0 in the third quarter, the Bears starting quarterback removed himself from the game, complaining of a knee injury. Cutler came under scathing criticism from teammates, analysts and fans after the Bears’ eventual 21-14 loss. Fellow NFL players questioned Cutler’s toughness on Twitter during the game, and ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl winning QB Trent Dilfer called him out on-air after the game. Word eventually leaked out that Cutler had suffered a torn MCL.

In 2013, Jay Cutler signed a 7-year $126 million contract with the Bears with $54 million guaranteed. After continued struggles, the Bears hired former Broncos quarterbacks coach Adam Gase to come to Chicago and get Cutler back on track as the new offensive coordinator. Cutler praised Gase publicly, and the star player appeared to be committed to the team and open to new ideas. The reunion lasted one year. Jay Cutler got injured and Gase moved on in 2016 and was named the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Jay Cutler became known anonymously as the “Coach Killer” among NFL league staff.

After missing five weeks with a sprained thumb, Monday night, Jay Cutler returns to the Soldier Field as the starting quarterback of the Bears. During Cutler’s most recent time on the injured list, his replacement Brian Hoyer has played well and gelled with the team, notwithstanding the team’s 1-6 record. Hoyer suffered a broken left arm last week against Green Bay. Prior to the injury, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report reported that the Bears were considering sticking with Hoyer as the starting QB and that Cutler would be open to potentially moving on from the franchise. His body language on the field and his inability to stay in games due to injuries has left many fans baffled.

Jay Cutler: talented, smart and good looking. Everybody sees his potential. Fans and fellow players watch in amazement as he flings a football all over the practice field with a cocky effortlessness rarely seen. He’s perfect! Jay Cutler is special. Everybody knows it. Especially Jay Cutler and the people Jay Cutler surrounds himself with. Jay Cutler is the $18 million-dollar-a-season man.

When you watch the Vikings-Bears game on Monday night, the PA announcer will say: And the starting QB for the Chicago Bears…out of Vanderbilt University… #6 Jay Cutler. You’ll hear a “Bronx Cheer” for the Indiana Blue Chipper with the Golden Arm. Yes! His name is on the roster, but he’s surely not on the team.

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