Bears Need to Bench Jay Cutler for Sake of His Future in Chicago

Bear Heiser@@BearHeiserFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2014

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 15: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is pressured by Kasim Edebali #91 of the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at Soldier Field on December 15, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

It’s time for the Chicago Bears to bench Jay Cutler, for the good of Jay Cutler and the future of the Chicago Bears organization.

Chicago's brutally ugly 31-15 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football is just one more reason the time is now to move the so-called franchise quarterback to the bench.

Cutler and the Bears offense played out of sync all night long against the Saints. The offense was shut out at halftime for the fourth time in eight games. Cutler threw three more interceptions, once again giving him the lead league. He was sacked seven times; the most the Bears have allowed since Week 2 of the 2012 season, one of which can be seen here, courtesy of @CJZero:

"They had a good plan," Cutler said after the game. "They mixed it up really well against us. They showed us a few new things. They knew what they were doing."

What’s sad is that it seems like every team the Bears have faced have known "what they were doing" against the Cutler-led offense. No surprises there, clearly.

The Bears' offensive struggles, Cutler included, have been well documentedover and seemingly over again. The status quo has yet to change, and it's likely to remain that way as long as head coach Marc Trestman and his band of merry men rule Halas Hall.

Is Jimmy Clausen a better option under center for the Bears offense? Absolutely not. Clausen might not even be a competent backup, let alone a competent starter. But that doesn't matter right now.

What moving Cutler to the bench does is prevent his relationship with the Bears organization and the city of Chicago from souring even more than it already has to date. Keeping Cutler on board should be one of the only thing that matters right now, because the dysfunction inside the walls of Halas Hall is only going to get worse before it gets better.

It's pretty incredible to think of the height at which this team started its fall, and it starts with the offense. It wasn’t too long ago when the Bears offense finished second in league in scoring (27.8). Year one of the Trestman-Cutler partnership was a success. Now, less than one year later, the partnership appears to have sank. 

It hardly matters that Cutler is having one of his best seasons from a statistical standpoint. The numbers are hallow when you consider Cutler's propensity to turn over the ball and his inability to navigate the offense into the end zone, which are the two biggest areas of importance for quarterbacks. Cutler leads the NFL in turnovers (24), while Chicago’s offense ranks 20th in points scored per game (21.1) in the NFL.

Jay Cutler 2014 statistics (through 14 games)
StatTotalNFL RankOn pace for career high?
Comp. %66.17thYes
Yards3,6409thNo
TDs28T-7Yes
INTs181stNo
QB Rating89.517thYes
ESPN.com

When the season began, Monday night’s game against New Orleans was supposed to be a matchup of two great teams destined for the playoffs. It ended up being two crappy teams, one of which might somehow sneak into the postseason mix. Now, the Bears sit with a 5-9 record with two games left on the schedule. No matter how the final two games shake out, it will for sure be a losing season, as Chicago Bears sideline reporter Zach Zaidman shared:

No good can come out of these final two games—let’s just call a spade a spade. There is no pride left to play for. Everything is broken. And that’s not an overreaction. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com painted an ugly picture inside the Bears organization, a story that could end with wholesale changes at Halas Hall. Trestman, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, to name a few.

Though, the one guy who almost certainly will be back next season is Cutler. Unless general manager Phil Emery is able to trick some sad-sap of a general manager to take on Cutler's hefty contract, he will be the Bears’ quarterback in 2015. And here’s why, via Spotrac.com:

Cutler’s entire $15.5M 2015 salary is already fully guaranteed, and $10M of his 2016 salary guarantees in March of 2015. Add in $4M in unallocated restructured money, and he'll carry a $29.5M dead cap figure once March comes.

No amount of buyer’s remorse is going to pressure the Bears into releasing Cutler and eating nearly $30 million in salary. So you can put that to bed right now.

The Bears are stuck with Cutler for at least one more season, which should make the decision to shut him down an easy one. Not only have the fans turned on Cutler, there are “sources” inside the organization who appear to have as well—one of them being the offensive coordinator.

Kromer’s comments to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, while somewhat true, are an enormous indicator of the complete lack of communication that currently exists at Halas Hall. Kromer stabbed his quarterback in the back. The trust is broken, and it certainly looked broken Monday night when it all went wrong in the loss to New Orleans.

When Cutler was asked if the Kromer incident served as a distraction, he replied, "No, I don't think so. Just have to look at the film. I have to play better. We'll take a look tomorrow and see exactly what slowed us down."

Raise your hand if you think he's full of it when saying the Kromer incident wasn't a distraction. Yeah, that's about right. And you don't need to see the tape to know that there is no quick fix for this team at this stage of the season. The Bears’ season has only gotten uglier as it has gone on, and the focus needs to start shifting away from the starting quarterback who isn’t going anywhere.

Despite the nationwide vitriol for Cutler, the Bears’ quarterback has been cruising on the high road, choosing not to rip into anyone in the organization, specifically Kromer, for the widespread issues that have been facing this team. A much-younger Cutler might have made that mistake.

What’s important now is that Cutler now needs to be protected by the organization. If Cutler turns on the organization or the fans, it’s over. It would be impossible for the Bears to trot Cutler onto the field next season if that were to happen. The fanbase would lose its collective mind. So the only solution is to make sure it doesn't get that far. 

If you want to read into comments made by Martellus Bennett, brought to you by Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times, then you might think Cutler has already started to turn the other way.

Benching Cutler would be protecting the Bears’ largest investment from himself, the naysayers within the organization, the city of Chicago and the ire of every football analyst out there who wants to crucify him week in and week out. Cutler certainly has his warts. He's playing bad football right now, this fact simply cannot be argued. But, like it or not, he’s going to be the Bears’ quarterback next season. Someone at Halas Hall needs to recognize that and start preparing now for the future.

Postgame quotes from Monday night's loss come via press conference transcripts sent by team unless otherwise noted.

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