Marc Sessler of NFL.com reported Wednesday the outspoken wide receiver made these thoughts quite clear when speaking to Michael Irvin and the Inside Training Camp Live crew. In speaking with Irvin and the rest of the series' staff, Marshall heaped praise upon Cutler:
"He's the first one in the building, last one to leave now, his leadership is through the roof," said Marshall. "He's correcting the coaches. This is his offense. This is his organization, he's running it, and I love it."
Unsurprisingly, Twitter users far and wide disagreed with Marshall in his assessment of Cutler's potential in 2014.
OK, so fans tend to overreact toward these types of comments, especially when they're given a forum like Twitter to voice their opinions. However, in this case, they're right.
Jay Cutler won't live up to the MVP hype Marshall has created for him, and for a number of key reasons.
The 31-year-old quarterback hasn't played a full season since 2009. Since then, Cutler has managed appearances in 15, 10, 15 and 11 games in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Last year, Cutler posted respectable numbers in then rookie-head coach Marc Trestman's new offense, racking up 2,621 yards through the air, to go along with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. More impressive, however, was the fact that Cutler did all that while missing a whopping 31 percent of the regular season.
But therein lies the problem: Cutler missed 31 percent of last season.
Cutler is healthy for this season, but that hasn't stopped him from missing time in his previous four seasons.
As long as Cutler is a starting quarterback, he'll be in danger of being sacked. As long as Cutler is in danger of being sacked, he'll be an injury risk.
If he can stay healthy, Cutler is likely to post a strong season, but not one of the same caliber as the group of players who he'll have to contend with for MVP honors.
Strong Competition from Other Sources
A good chunk of the reason Cutler won't win this year's MVP award is no fault of his own.
Consider Cutler's numbers, along with those of the players mentioned above since Rodgers became a full-time starter back in 2008.
|Passing Stats 2008-2013|
The group of players analyzed in the chart above have combined to win six of the last seven NFL MVP awards, with the lone exception being Adrian Peterson in 2012.
Basic statistics used to analyze quarterbacks and their level of play put Cutler clearly below the top tier of NFL quarterbacks. The eight-year veteran owns the worst marks in all but one category, that being interceptions, where he holds a two interception lead over Drew Brees—Brees also played in 12 more games than Cutler over the years in question.
Cutler has a strong receiving corps, headlined by Pro Bowlers Alshon Jeffery and Marshall. In addition to one of the best wideout duos in the league, the Bears' offense boasts one of the league's better tight ends in Martellus Bennett.
That group is joined by one of the best running backs in the game, Matt Forte.
The Bears have surrounded Cutler with a number of outstanding playmakers, but he'll still have to outwork the game's best quarterbacks, who also find themselves in outstanding offensive situations surrounded by playmakers.
Perhaps the most important reason Cutler won't live up to Marshall's hype is the inconsistencies he displays on the playing field.
In his time with the Bears, Cutler has averaged 1.70 turnovers per game. In comparison to that group above, Cutler is the worst.
|Turnovers Per Game 2009-2013|
Cutler is inconsistent in his decision-making and forces passes. Part of that was likely the result of the deluge of pass-rushers he had breathing down his neck for all those seasons—he ranks as the second most sacked quarterback of that group over that time frame, trailing only Aaron Rodgers.
Cutler's inconsistencies could improve this season with a second year of work in Trestman's offense. With an additional offseason to further his understanding of the system, and also to work with the rest of the offense in general—most importantly with Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett and Forte—this is within reason.
However, he could also see those interception and sack totals rise again as the result of increased pass opportunities in an offense that ranked sixth in the NFC in pass attempts last season—including the five games Cutler missed.
If Cutler's propensity to turn the ball over returns in 2014, it will prove damning for his MVP chances.
All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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