Brandon Marshall really, really believes in his starting quarterback.
Asked what we'll see from Jay Cutler, the Pro Bowl wideout told NFL Media's Michael Irvin on Wednesday that Chicago's starting quarterback will be named this year's league MVP.
'He's the first one in the building, last one to leave now, his leadership is through the roof,' Marshall said on Wednesday's edition of Inside Training Camp Live. 'He's correcting the coaches. This is his offense. This is his organization, he's running it, and I love it.'
It's seemingly the little things that Cutler has been doing that have impressed his teammates and coaches. Take, for example, the following excerpt from camp passed along by Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com:
Evidence of Cutler’s growth also manifested itself Saturday on the field after the club’s second workout of camp. Earlier that day, Cutler and tight end Martellus Bennett squandered what should have been a touchdown in the red zone when linebacker Jonathan Bostic broke up the quarterback’s pass.
As the rest of the team walked off the field after practice, Cutler walked over to an adjacent field with Bennett to talk about ways they could be more effective in the red zone. The conversation wasn’t combative, and the duo walked away smiling, having gained a better understanding of how to capitalize on the next red-zone opportunity.
That will certainly be music to the ears of Chicago fans everywhere—and you have to love Marshall praising his guy so effusively. Still, imagining Cutler as an MVP candidate will be viewed as a bit of a stretch in many circles.
For starters, can Cutler stay healthy? He missed five games due to injury in 2013 and six in 2011. He hasn't played a complete 16-game season since 2009. Perhaps a healthy Cutler can compete for the league's most prized individual award, but avoiding injury hasn't been his strong suit in recent years.
He's also only thrown for more than 4,000 yards once in his career (2008 with the Denver Broncos), and his career high in touchdowns thrown is 27 (2009). To put that into perspective, the last six times a quarterback has won league MVP (Peyton Manning three times, Tom Brady twice, Aaron Rodgers once), they've thrown for at least 3,900 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Jay Cutler has never produced those numbers in the same season in his career.
And keep in mind, only one quarterback has won the MVP award in the past seven years with fewer than 4,000 passing yards (Brady with 3,900 in 2010), and only one quarterback has won the award with fewer than 30 touchdown passes (Manning with 27 in 2008) in that time period. Given those trends, Cutler's production would have to increase drastically from the 2,992 yards and 19 touchdowns he's averaged per year thus far.
So, too, would he need to cut down on his interceptions. Since joining the Bears in 2009, he's averaged 1.1 interceptions per game. In the past seven years, the only quarterback to win the MVP who also averaged at least an interception per game is Manning in 2009 (with 16).
Yes, Cutler has cut down on the interceptions since tossing a whopping 26 in 2009. But even still, he'll likely have to reduce this number even further if he is to win a league MVP.
Add it all up, and it's hard to share Marshall's enthusiasm.
On the other hand, Cutler's big arm has never been questioned, he has amazing weapons in Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett, and his second season in Marc Trestman's pass-happy system could see his production really increase.
But to an MVP level? Well, that remains to be seen. For now, Marshall may be in the minority on this one.