Why Jay Cutler and his $54 million need to be benched

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Let’s make one thing clear off the bat: The problem with the Bears right now extends beyond quarterback Jay Cutler.

As Brandon Marshall said Monday, the offense stinks, the defense stinks, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

But Cutler is a particularly easy target, mainly because he doesn’t even seem like he cares that the Bears are so bad. Peter King wrote about this eloquently on Tuesday: “Cutler leads the league in bad body language, which would be easy to overlook if he were playing better – and it is often overlooked when he does play well. But the Bears are 3-6. Cutler has turned the ball over 15 times in nine games. While the Patriots and Packers were putting up 80 points in the last two first halves, this is how Cutler responded: 14 possessions, one touchdown.”

King is 100 percent correct, and that’s without even mentioning that Cutler’s poor form follows him off the field, too. He makes excuses in post-game interviews and a few weeks ago ran away and hid from his own ESPN radio show.

There’s an easy solution for dealing with a player that doesn’t win and doesn’t care: bench him.

Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon began this dialogue Tuesday, and the case for benching Cutler deserves to be fleshed out.

Eliminating Cutler is addition by subtraction at this point. He’s a cancer that’s killing the team and killing careers.

Former NFL wide receiver Amani Toomer wasn’t using hyperbole last week when he said Jay Cutler “is a guy that gets coaches fired.”

Here’s the list of the recently terminated: head coach Lovie Smith, offensive coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz (resigned), Mike Tice and quarterbacks coaches Pep Hamilton, Shane Day and Jeremy Bates. Current Bears coaches in those jobs – Marc Trestman, Aaron Kromer and Matt Cavanaugh – will be on that list soon, too, it seems.

Seven coaches directly tied to Cutler have lost their jobs in Chicago, and three more are headed that direction.

Throw former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo on the list, too. He was fired after Cutler’s third season. Current GM Phil Emery may also find himself on the chopping block soon — and he probably should after guaranteeing Cutler $54 million.

That contract is one of two primary reasons so many fans say Cutler cannot be benched. How can you pay a guy $54 million to ride the pine?

Here’s the bottom line: Forget the $54 million. It’s gone. Sunk cost. Might as well pile it on top of those Jay Cutler jerseys that fans are burning.

The other reason Cutler supporters say he should be started is that Jimmy Clausen is not a better alternative.

It’s true that Clausen isn’t as talented as Cutler, but Cutler’s talent has never been the problem.

Honestly, could Clausen make this team any worse than it already is? Surely Clausen could at least match Cutler’s resume these last two first halves of 14 possessions and one touchdown.

Benching Cutler would have a two-pronged effect. First, we’d get to see how Cutler responds. If he stays slouched on the bench and pouts, then all the better that he’s not playing. Or maybe, just maybe, he decides to earn his money. Maybe he works a little harder. Maybe he sheds the pouty face and shows some determination.

Second, benching Cutler sends a message to the rest of the Bears locker room that accountability and responsibility matter at Halas Hall. Nobody, Cutler included, is exempt from such treatment.

The season is lost and the coaching staff is on the hot seat. What do Trestman, Emery and Bears fans have to lose at this point?

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