Never has a position been so scrutinized on this team in its history than the quarterback position has ever since Jay Cutler came to Chicago. When Cutler first arrived via a trade with the Denver Broncos, almost everyone felt that he would be the guy to bring the Bears to the promised land and get them to the Super Bowl.
His first season with the Bears was a troubling one. He led the NFL in interceptions and seemed to struggle at critical times. His second season started out a little rocky, but as it progressed, he ended up picking things up (the offense) and started to play very well. Granted, there were breakdowns, but he curbed his mistakes and helped lead the team to 10 wins (the 11th win came while he was out of the lineup with a concussion against the Carolina Panthers), as well as to a playoff victory.
Cutler is one of the most criticized quarterbacks in the NFL for several reasons. People don’t think that he plays up to his potential, they feel that he has a bad attitude and most recently, they feel that he’s a quitter. For all of the criticism he gets, he does seem to take it very well. He doesn’t deserve all of the criticism that he has gotten, that is for sure, and he will become a much better quarterback in the Bear’s offense.
The following is a statistical look at the performance of the Bears quarterbacks in 2010 as well as some discussion about how they played and how things look for them in 2011.
Everyone knows what Cutler did in 2010 under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Things started out well in the passing game for the Bears, at least for the first three games of the season. It appeared as if the Bears would have the same kind of offense that Martz had put together in St. Louis, one that was a highly effective passing attack with some running on the side.
After hitting a wall due the imbalance on offense, the Bears toned things down a little bit and had a lot more success.
Cutler attempted 432 passes, completing 261 of those passes for 3274 yards. His completion percentage was 60.4 and he had 7.6 yards per pass attempt.
Cutler threw 23 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions and was sacked 52 times. His overall quarterback rating was 86.3 percent.
Cutler was good for most of the season, but still had his mistakes from time to time (and sometimes at critical times). There was the four-interception game against the Redskins that quite possibly led the Bears to rethink their offensive strategy a little bit and then there were the fumbles that came at some very critical times.
Cutler is a talented quarterback with great physical tools but still needs some polish in certain areas to help turn himself into a great quarterback. Perhaps another year in Martz’s offense, along with some help from improvements the Bears need to make (and hopefully will make) on the offensive line and in the receiving corps could help Cutler become a better quarterback in Chicago and help get his team back into the playoffs and quite possibly into the Super Bowl.
The Bears brought Collins in later on during the preseason last year, as they were afraid that not having a veteran quarterback would hurt them if Cutler was ever to go down. And who thought that Cutler would go down right? He had been healthy since coming into the NFL and seemed to escape injury where other quarterbacks may have succumbed to it.
But in the fourth game of the year, against the New York Giants, Cutler was beat up to the point that he suffered a concussion and was forced to miss the Bear’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Enter Todd Collins, who had a very poor game against a very poor opponent and left many people concerned just exactly what the Bears had behind Cutler.
Collins attempted 27 passes, completing 10 of those passes for 68 yards and a completion percentage of 37 percent. His yards per pass attempt was 2.5, and he had five interceptions, no touchdowns and two sacks. His overall passer rating was 5.9.
Collins will probably not be next season as it appears his ability to lead an NFL offense has long since gone. Look for the Bears to find a replacement for him during the offseason if they decide to keep three quarterbacks on the roster for 2010.
Ask most anyone and they would tell you that Hanie deserved to be the No. 2 quarterback this season and should have been the second guy that they put in after Cutler went out with that knee injury in the NFC Championship game. But hindsight is 20/20.
All told, Hanie attempted just seven passes, completing five for 55 yards. His completion percentage was 71.4 and his yards per attempt was 7.9. He was sacked twice and his overall passer rating was 94.3. Of course, with such small numbers this doesn’t mean much.
You can bet that after the performance that Hanie put on against the Packers in the NFC Championship game that he will be kept as a backup for the 2011 season and, depending on what the Bears decide to do at the position (such as get another quarterback), he will probably remain the second string quarterback next season.
Overall, the play of the quarterbacks this season was better than it was in 2009, but it just wasn’t good enough at times to help cement some additional victories for the Bears (in all their losses, the quarterback was one of top two reasons why the Bears lost the game). The game against the Redskins was a prime example of how the play at that position hurt the Bears' chances at winning (remember Cutler’s four interceptions all to DeAngelo Hall in their game against the Redskins) that game.
Cutler is a very polarizing figure to fans and the media, and he’s been blamed for a lot of the Bears' struggles in 2010, but he has problems that he can’t control. His offensive line couldn’t protect him at times during the season, and his wide receivers struggled running proper routes during the season so it’s not entirely Cutler’s fault.
People have also criticized his mechanics and the way that he handles the game on the sidelines (because he seldom, if ever, looks at the pre- and post-snap photos) and until Cutler takes his team to the Super Bowl and wins, he’s never going to escape the criticism. The question is, can he handle the criticism, not let it get to him and prove the critics wrong?
Collins was a mistake that cost the Bears some important snaps in the NFC Championship Game and won’t be around when the Bears open up camp this summer. Hanie is sure to stick around and barring any kind of “super” backup quarterback acquisition, should be the second string quarterback next season.
Next Up: We will take a look the Bear’s running backs and how they did during the 2010 season.
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