Chicago fans will miss Jay Cutler
Right or wrong, some Bears fans were less-than-heartbroken when watching their high-priced quarterback, Jay Cutler, limp off the field with a hamstring injury on Sunday. Be careful what you wish for, however, if Cutler is forced to miss time.
If Chicago has hopes of winning anytime soon, then expecting back-up Jimmy Clausen to come to the rescue is being a bit naïve.
Not only did Clausen have the third-worst PFF grade (-14.9) for quarterbacks during the 2010 season under current coach John Fox at Carolina, but his team went 1-9 that year with him as the starter. The Bears also lost their only game with Clausen as their starter last season (-0.5 grade in that matchup with the Lions).
This shouldn’t be about Clausen, however. Instead, this is the case for Cutler, as well as pointing out poor O-line choices by general managers Jerry Angelo (2001–2011) and Phil Emery (2012–2014).
Believe it or not, Cutler isn’t a terrible player. He’s graded out as a PFF top 10 quarterback twice in his career, including 2013 (+15.2). His best season was in 2008 with Denver, when he graded as the fourth-best PFF quarterback (+20.1) that year.
So, why is everyone quick to blame him for the Bears’ struggles? In reality, Chicago fans should be blaming Angelo and Emery for never providing the QB with the proper protection; let’s dig into the numbers and prove our case.
Since Cutler became a Bear in 2009, Chicago’s offensive line pass-block grades were as follows:
- 2009: -26.8
- 2010: -108.7
- 2011: -60.0
- 2012: -41.2
- 2013: -45.8
- 2014: -33.4
- Total: -315.9
Compare those numbers to what his main divisional rival, Aaron Rodgers, has experienced (+93.7 PFF pass block grade) during the same time-frame, and you can see how short-handed Cutler has been from the get-go.
What can Cutler do with solid pass protection? In 2008, Denver just so happened to have the 12th best PFF pass-block protection (+4.7); that was his only season with a positively-graded offensive line in front of him. Again, 2o08 was Cutler’s best season to date.
Bears fans should also be looking for a future replacement when the time comes for Cutler to depart. His name is not Jimmy Clausen—but it could be David Fales.
Fales is currently on the practice squad, but could get a shot to play sooner than expected. I hope the Bears give him one; Fales was one my favorite sleeper quarterback in the 2014 class.
Drafted in the sixth round because of limited arm strength, Fales demonstrated the ability to put up prolific numbers at San Jose State, including his memorable final game against former Fresno State quarterback and current Raider, Derek Carr. Fales went toe-to-toe with Carr in their 62-52 win, posting 547 yards and six TDs.
Fales has also improved nicely from his 2014 rookie preseason grade of -3.9 to this past preseason grade of +1.7.
Is David Fales the answer? I’m not sure, but Chicago will sorely miss Cutler if Clausen is under center next week against Seattle.