Chicagoan and die hard Bears fan Scott Goldstein waxes ecstatic about the signing of Jay Cutler to a long-term contract yesterday.
According to NBC Chicago, almost half of the Bears fans that bothered to respond to their poll about re-signing Jay Cutler are opposed to the signing. Yesterday, my Facebook news feed was chock full of people who are outraged that the QB will be returning for seven years. Even the Sun-Times is dubious about a seven-year contract.
Those people are just flat out wrong.
Cutler is a rare breed-a QB. He’s got a lightning quick release and a deep ball with velocity. He can throw laser darts . . . off his back foot . . . while scrambling. Sure he has a maddening propensity for getting injured, and I won’t deny that he has a knack for throwing ill-timed interceptions. You’re not going to find talent like this sitting on the free-agent market, or in the draft unless you have one of the first three picks (which the Bears don’t).
Bears fans have notoriously short memories and infamously deep, festering emotional wounds. I kept hearing today “let Josh McCown start and draft someone new.” Perhaps they’ve forgotten how truly miserable it was to take the journey from Jim McMahon to Cutler (notwithstanding a brief respite with Eric Kramer, who had gaudy stats but was surrounded by mediocrity both on the field and on the sideline). They act as if the acquisition of a next-level quarterback is easy, as if the last 20 years never happened.
It’s true that pain affects the memory. It works selectively in order to soothe trauma. One can’t blame fans for desperately trying to erase the memory of Peter Tom Willis, Steve Walsh, Shane Matthews, Moses Moreno, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Kordell Stewart, Henry Burress, Craig Krenzel and all their wobbly throws from their minds. Even “successful” QBs like Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton left a lot to be desired. Bears fans have zero experience evaluating greatness, all apologies to any living Bears fan that remembers Sid Luckman.
Chicago fans also aren’t used to a Bears team ranked second in the NFL in scoring, and second to last in points allowed. This. Is. BizarroWorld.
What two out of three Bears fans seem to be missing is that McCown’s success had no precedent. He is absolutely a capable backup who was thoroughly prepared to execute in a tremendous system. Marc Trestman and Aaron Kromer have turned this offense into a juggernaut, not McCown. You can (and they did) put a journeyman quarterback in there and he would put up solid numbers. Give a QB with the skills and raw talent of Cutler a full season? He’ll be smashing records.
As for the seven years. Well, we haven’t seen the details of this contract yet, but seeing as the Bears are traditionally a spendthrift organization, and given the nature of football contracts in general, it just makes sense. The agent taking 10 percent gets to tout the money that he got for his client, the team gets to make a big splash in showing they’re committed to their players and serious about winning. Meanwhile, they’ve left the back door open to dump him with minimal salary cap repercussions in the last few years if things don’t work out. Cutler is 31, entering his prime as a quarterback. When this contract ends, he should still be serviceable if not spectacular at 38 years old (for perspective, John Elway was 37 when he won his first Super Bowl).
Need more reasons to lock down Cutler? I’ll give you five big ones: Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and the Bennetts, Earl and Martysaurus Rex. All of them are explosive NOW and more importantly, they have chemistry with Cutler. There’s trust.
- Marshall and Cutler are best friends;
- Earl Bennett and Jay went to college together; and
- I don’t know if there’s another QB in the league with an arm that’s better suited to take advantage of Jeffery (as much when he throws badly as when he throws well).
Now that Cutler has been re-signed, the Bears can (and must) rebuild the defense on the fly in order to contend for a title. But be heartened. It’s a different NFL now, pass-heavy and high scoring. Finally and for once, the Bears are actually in a position to play the modern game. CELEBRATE THIS SIGNING.
In closing, I’ll remind you all what football sage Marv Levy said of Trestman in regards to Cutler after his hiring, “Marc is just the right guy for [Cutler]. He teaches well and he has just the right way to communicate with players.”
From what I’ve seen so far I wouldn’t be surprised if this combination results in a Lombardi Trophy.