If you don’t think that Jay Cutler is God’s gift to quarterbacking and have been public about it, there’s a good chance you’ve heard from his supporters. They’re the people in the “Jay For President’’ T-shirts, the people awaiting the delivery of matching Speedo briefs.
There are metronomes that aren’t as regular as these folks are with their defense of the Bears quarterback. Jay is ultra-talented. Jay is much better than his statistics show. Jay has been surrounded by mediocre talent. Jay is misunderstood. And you’re an idiot for not understanding this.
So it always amuses me when someone – usually from outside the parochial borders of Chicago – sees Cutler in a different, non-rosy light than his backers do.
Or 42 someones.
ESPN’s Mike Sando polled NFL general managers, head coaches, coordinators and scouts, among others, and asked them to put 33 quarterbacks in one of five tiers. Cutler finished in the third tier, defined as “Legit starter but needs heavy run game/defense to win.’’ He was ranked 21st, one spot ahead of Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles.
What this tells me is that the league didn’t totally buy Cutler’s 2015 season, when he had a career-best 92.3 passer rating. It took into consideration the body of his work, a 10-year career that has been defined by more mistakes than successes.
Some of those polled had kind things to say about him, with one saying that if Cutler continues playing the way he did last season, he can move solidly into Tier 2, defined as “Can carry team sometimes but not … consistently.’’
But even the compliments have an edge to them.
“Cutler needs guys around him who are his guys and who play their asses off for him,” a veteran offensive coordinator told Sando. “He has not had that. And unlike some other quarterbacks, Jay does not have the personality to make it right. He needs it to be right already.”
That doesn’t bode well for this season, as the Bears try to build a respectable offense and deal with training-camp injuries. There’s a decent chance Cutler and his teammates are going to be faced with more than a few frustrating challenges.
He’s a Tier 3 quarterback. Sounds about right.