It’s not often that established Quarterbacks get benched. Recently RGIII has had to suffer the indignity of holding the clipboard while fully fit, but this weekend we’ll see a veteran – Jay Cutler – on the sidelines, watching on while Jimmy Clausen stands under centre for the Chicago Bears.
It was only a short 4 months ago that the Bears back-office made Cutler the highest paid player in the league for this season….now, with the Bears looking down the barrel of last place in the NFC North, it’s fair to ask – has it all been Cutler’s fault?
Despite a difficult relationship with the Chi-town fanbase, the answer is no – it’s not all his fault. There are a lot of big names on the Bears’ roster that have either not stood up this season, or have fallen to unfortunate injuries. However, Cutler’s negative body language, combined with his bulging wallet, has meant that all eyes fall on him. He will argue that he’s had a banged up receiver corps – not once has he had both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery at full strength. He can also argue that he’s had a stuttering Defence that can’t give enough time on the field – the Bears D has fallen off a cliff since Brian Urlacher retired, and the wave of high profile free agent pickups this last summer has not halted the slide.
So now that Cutler is backing up Clausen this week, what can we expect the Bears to do this off-season? One thing is for certain – there are going to be some twitchy seats in Chicago this January – Phil Emery is the executive who said Cutler is worth a 7 year contract. Marc Trestman is the “quarterback whisperer” whose job it was to tap the potential in this elusive gunslinger. Cutler himself is now a man who has failed to live up to the hype – there is clearly a scenario where all 3 are no longer in Chicago come next September.
If the Bears clear house, then they’ll be picking high enough in the draft to start anew. If Emery and Trestman get more time, then Cutler’s contract can only really hurt them if he doesn’t get another starting gig for the 2015 season, which would be highly unlikely. However, if Cutler remains with the Bears, then you have to think its highly unlikely that it’s going to be under the current management, who have just sent the clear message – “you’re not as good as we thought you were”.