What happened to Jay Cutler?
Last year Jay Cutler was one of the best young Quarterbacks in the league, he was a pro bowler while throwing for 4526 yards and almost leading the Broncos to the playoffs despite a horrendous defense. This year his Bears are 5-9, their offense ranks 21st in the league and he leads the NFL in interceptions with 25. Is Jay Cutler's dreams for being an elite Quarterback over? Are the Bears doomed to have another failure leading them into the abyss? Time will tell, but these five things have definitely hindered Cutler's maturation.
1. He's learning a new system.
Quarterback's in new systems usually fail. Just check Brett Favre's stats last year with the Jets, or Alex Smith's track record with five offensive coordinators in five seasons. A new system alone doesn't ensure failure but it sure doesn't help.
2. No Mike Shanahan.
There is no doubt Shanahan is an offensive genius. His offensive track record is nearly flawless. He was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers from 1992-1994, in all three of those seasons the 49ers lead the NFL in points scored. He was the coach for the Broncos from 1995-2008, during that span he coached John Elway and Terrell Davis to two Super Bowl wins. He also had a stretch were it seemed he could grab anyone off the street, put them at running back and they would eclipse 1,000 yards that season.
3. Cutler has no one to throw to.
The Bears leading receiver Devin Hester is catching on slow. He was supposed to be the Bears big play threat but he's only averaging 12.6 yards per catch. In fact no Bears receiver is averaging more than 14 yards per catch.
4. The Bears defense is still bad.
A few years ago the Bears had one of the best defenses in the league. The past two season they don't. In week 12 the Vikings gashed them for 537 total yards, in week seven the Bengals scored 45 points and in week nine the Cardinals put up 41. Hardly helping keep the Bears in the game.
5. The Bears don't have a running game.
Last year Matt Forte burst on to the scene with 1715 total yards from scrimmage, including 1238 rushing yards. This year has been a let down. He averages 3.4 yards per carry and has already fumbled six times. He fumbled only once last season.
If given the right opportunities Jay Culter can flourish again. Right now Culter has a lot working against him. He still is young, he does have a huge arm, but he needs to be in a system that maximizes his natural abilities and minimizes his knack for throwing the ball to the wrong team. Right now he is forced to throw the ball, because his team is usually down. While it doesn't justify his 33 turnovers (25 interceptions, 8 fumbles) it does give hope to the future.