My threshold for elite quarterbacks is higher than the mainstream idea of what it means to be an elite signal-caller in the NFL.
Right now, there are three active quarterbacks in the NFL that are positioning themselves to be Hall of Fame QBs. That's one element of what it takes to be considered elite in my opinion.
Another QB is positioning himself to one day be considered elite. That QB is Aaron Rodgers, who at this point is doing far more with his abilities than anyone else.
Jay Cutler is barely among the top 10 NFL QBs, and rightfully so. He has a lot to prove in a league dominated by the passing game.
I fully expect Jay Cutler to perform at a top-five level in the NFL, but that doesn't get you elite status.
What earns the right to be called elite is putting together a career worthy of Canton, or winning multiple Super Bowl titles while playing at a consistently high level.
Tom Brady is consistently among the best QBs in the NFL and has three rings, which makes him elite.
Jay Cutler will never reach that level because he is not dedicated to his craft and is not dedicated to getting the most out of his talents.
Cutler is too often erratic and inconsistent with his decision-making and fundamentals. The counter to this argument will be that Cutler has never had weapons around him and that his offensive line is horrible.
Though true statements, they have nothing to do with Cutler's own inconsistency and play.
By Chicago Bears fans' standards, Jay Cutler is an elite QB. But Bears fans are accustomed to watching some of the worst QBs in the history of the NFL behind center.
Jay Cutler has the elite ability to make throws that maybe only one or two other QBs in the last 20 years could make. Unfortunately, Cutler relies on that once-in-a-decade ability to get by, rather than accentuating and molding his career into one of the all-time best.
Cutler's attitude and makeup make him a competitive player that you're happy to have on your team, but he also shows far too much immaturity.
Am I glad Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears?
Yes, he's been a fantastic addition to the team and could very well have the best passing season in Bears history in the coming year. The Bears very likely could wind up in the Super Bowl with Cutler hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but that won't make him elite.
But I'm also keenly aware of how good that kid is up in Green Bay. He's so much better than Cutler that he'll keep the Packers competitive for the next decade if he continues on his current trajectory.
Cutler isn't a QB that is so good that he can overcome the shortcomings of the team around him and keep his team performing at a level that has them in the hunt every year.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is a very good player, but all of his accomplishments are being measured against the best Chicago Bears QBs in history—not against the elite.
He has never had a season where his overall efficiency can be fairly measured against the game's elite, and he'll likely never be consistent enough to be called an elite NFL quarterback.
I think Jay Cutler is a phenomenal talent with elite ability, and I love the fact that he's the quarterback of the Chicago Bears. I'm so completely satisfied that he's finally settled the never-ending question of who should start under center in the Windy City, but I'm also acutely aware that he's not elite.
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