When the offseason started, probably no one in the Windy City area would have thought the Bears would undergo such a huge change on the offense. Even when the news broke that, then Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler could be traded, likely no one in the Chicago area would have imagined that the he could end up under center for the Bears.
It’s a real mystery how the turn of events led to Cutler’s arrival, but here he is and now the Bears have a true top-flight quarterback. Last season the team ranked 21st in passing and its’ leading receiver was running back Matt Forte who finished 2008 with 63 receptions.
Despite the lack of play making ability at the receiver position, it appears the Bears will be content to roll with their current lineup and one of the leagues best quarterbacks. Cutler is coming off an impressive 2008 campaign passing for more than 4,500-yards and throwing 25-touchdowns.
Many feel he’s a huge step forward for the Bears' offense at the quarterback position, but do they have enough talent at the receiver position for Cutler to be successful in 2009?
Their leading wide receiver is a converted kick-returner, albeit that it is the explosive Devin Hester, but he’s unpolished, unproven, and is still a work in progress. The most accomplished receiver Cutler will have to throw to is probably his new tight end Greg Olsen, but despite all the hype around the former Hurricane he’s yet to live up to expectations.
The Bears are not without talent, they do have some skilled players that can make plays, like Brandon Lloyd who has shown flashes. Lloyd biggest deficiency is his lack of consistency.
Last season Lloyd had a two game stretch where he caught 11 passes for 190-yards and a touchdown, then missed five games, and completed a stretch of six games in the second half of the season where two catches were the most in any game (tallied seven catches during the stretch).
There’s no doubt Cutler brings the Bears offense immediate credibility and playmaking at the quarterback position, but without top flight talent on the outside the passing game will be limited. Hester will have his moments, but will likely struggle to be consistent and the offense is going to be a work in progress as the nucleus builds chemistry.
Surprisingly the Bears seem content to keep what they have, even if it’s not a lot. With several free agents available and some big names floating around in trade rumors, we’ve yet to hear the Bears link to anything. Content or not, this is what they have and they will have to rely mightily on the rocket arm of Jay Cutler.
Cutler’s arm wasn’t big enough to lift the Broncos into playoff contenders, but they were a team without a defense. In Chicago he’ll have the benefit of having a better defense and a team that might not require as much of him.
With the lack of playmakers on offense to make the playoffs, he’s still going to have to be very good; but will it be enough?
By David Ortega