Since being traded from the Denver Broncos four years ago, Cutler has thrown 82 touchdowns and 63 interceptions for the Chicago Bears. The Bears have averaged nine wins over those same four seasons.
As Cutler enters what could arguably be considered the most important year of his career, questions remain about the flaws that seem to have followed Cutler throughout his seven-year NFL career.
There's no denying his natural athletic and throwing ability. Cutler has shown, at times, to be among the elite playmakers in the NFL at quarterback. He's widely been considered one of the strongest arms in the NFL since he came into the league. Coming out of Vanderbilt in 2006, he was the No. 11 overall pick by the Denver Broncos.
These "flaws" have been discussed throughout his career, and for most football fans, they aren't surprises. He has a tendency to believe he can make any throw presented to him, regardless of any danger of turning it over. This inner confidence to make any play has allowed Cutler to make highlight-reel throws very few other quarterbacks can make, but also enough mistakes that it could have cost his team games.
Combine that with a perceived "aloof" attitude and, at times, questionable sideline demeanor. There's your recipe for a polarizing quarterback situation.
New Bears head coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer will have their hands full with Cutler. He's obviously the key to their offense and has shown flashes of being an elite quarterback in his career. It's their job to bring the best out of him and eliminate the handful of moments each game that display the worst.
That's a big job and one they won't be taking lightly, and neither will Cutler. Despite the pressure of playing quarterback in the NFL already, Cutler enters the final year of the two-year extension he signed with the Bears after being traded from the Broncos. There's a lot on the line for everyone, and Bears fans are tired of waiting for it all to come together. The pressure is on to win and to win soon.
One of the biggest flaws Cutler has is in his footwork. He'll see an opportunity to throw the ball down the field after he drops back in the pocket, and naturally he'll just fire away without properly positioning his lower half first.
These pictures below show plenty of examples of Cutler not setting his feet before he throws the ball.
The problem is that Cutler will make plays and throw passes very few quarterbacks can make, all while demonstrating awful mechanics. They're not ALL bad throws when he's doing things incorrectly, and that's the problem. He's still finding some positive results from things he's been repeatedly criticized for and told not to do.
The reason there's always going to be some optimism surrounding Jay Cutler is detailed in the screenshots below.
There's just under two minutes left in the first half against the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears fake a stretch play to running back Matt Forte and run a play-action bootleg out to the left. Tight end Matt Spaeth will run a deep out route and ultimately catch the touchdown pass.
You see the play action from Cutler in the backfield while Spaeth is going down the field into his route. Wide receiver Earl Bennett is angling towards the middle of the field as another receiving option from the right side of the formation.
Wide receiver Eric Weems ran a drag all the way across the field and is Cutler's first read on the play. Cutler can see the two Vikings defenders ready to collapse on Weems on the short completion.
Cutler's second read is Bennett in the middle of the field. With the first defender cutting off Cutler's ability to fire the ball on a line, Cutler knows he'd have to loft it over the defender's reach to get it to the receiver. This would take velocity off the ball and allow the two defensive backs time to undercut the throw.
Cutler may have attempted this throw if it hadn't been for the defender blocking his line of sight. He would have seen a clear throwing lane and challenge to fire it between the two defensive backs.
Cutler goes to his third read instead and delivers a pass under some heavy pressure.
The throw is an absolute dime from Cutler for a touchdown. The great catch from Spaeth also helped, but this was a perfect throw. There aren't a lot of quarterbacks who could have made this play. For all that's discussed about Cutler making bone-headed decisions, which he frequently does, he still makes plays like this as well.
If Trestman and Kromer can somehow eliminate Cutler's bad decisions, they'll find the success they believed they could bring when they took these jobs in Chicago. There's no way they would have been given this opportunity if they didn't sell the fact that they could develop and wrangle Jay Cutler into being the quarterback he's shown flashes to be.
We'll find out in 2013 if they are able to do that or not. Cutler's legacy and future earnings could be on the line.