What The Cutler Contract Extension Means to Bears Fans

Sean HeffernanContributor IOctober 21, 2009

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 18, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Jay Cutler has signed a two-year contract extension with the Chicago Bears putting the future of the historic franchise directly on the 26-year-old quarterback's shoulders for the immediate future.

With a possible lock out looming on the horizon in the NFL in 2011 Cutler and agent, Bus Cook, were looking to make a deal this season. Over the next five seasons with the Bears, Cutler will make $50 million dollars with $20 million guaranteed in the agreed contract.

In his debut season with the Chicago Bears, Cutler has seen both the good and bad in navy, orange, and white. Last weekend Cutler passed for 300 yards and threw two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice by Atlanta Falcon defensive back Thomas DeCoud.  On the final drive of the game Cutler made a poor pass on fourth down that fell out of reach for tight end Desmond Clark and the Bears lost a game they could have won 21-14.

To add further harm to injury, Kyle Orton (who the Bears traded to Denver as apart of the Cutler deal) is undefeated and playing the best football of his life.

The Bears are sitting 3-2 in the NFC North behind the 6-0 Minnesota Vikings and will have to make up some serious ground in the coming weeks if they want to stay in the hunt for the division title.

The signing of Cutler for the next five years does give the Bears a franchise quarterback to build around. Despite, the number of frustrating mistakes Cutler has made thus far this season I don't think anyone can doubt his talent.

Last Sunday night while getting clobbered by blitzing defenders, Cutler made two throws down the middle of the field to tight ends Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark. Cutler simply makes plays with his arm that no other Chicago Bears quarterback has ever been able to make.

The real problems with this year's installment of the "Monsters of the Midway" lies in the under-performing offensive line and the beaten up linebacker core on the defense. The Bears rushing game has been a huge disappointment coming off of Matt Forte's breakout rookie season last year where the former Tulane star rushed for over 1,000 yards.

The new faces on the O-line in Orlando Pace, Frank Omiyale, and Chris Williams have not lived up to their billing. After missing his entire rookie season with a injured back, the Bears' 2008 first round draft pick has looked exposed at left tackle in the first five games.

Free-agent pick up, Omiyale himself looks to be half way out of job at left guard with Josh Beekman waiting in the wings. Orlando Pace has been serviceable protecting Cutler's blind side, but the future hall of famer isn't looking his former Pro-Bowl self by any means. If the Bears cannot develop a running game this year they have little chance of winning the division.

The injuries of Brian Urlacher, Pisa Tinoisamoa, and Hunter Hillenmeyer have been difficult for the Bears' defense to overcome this season with inexperienced linebackers such as Nick Roach and Jamar Williams attempting to fill the void.

This week it looks like Hillenmeyer may be back from a rib injury with the Bengals welcoming the Bears to Cincinnati. The Bengals are off to a surprising 4-2 start and are leading the AFC North division. Former Bears running back, Cedric Benson, is undergoing a rebirth in form for the Bengals as he has rushed for the third most yards in the NFL so far this season.

Sunday's game is a pivotal test for the Bears where they could see themselves either make strides towards catching the Vikings or revert to a mediocre .500 team dreaming of a late season wild card run. With all the hoopla over the Bears in Chicago stemming from the Cutler trade, a defeat on Sunday would be a huge set back for the 2009 Bears.