Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jay Cutler: A Talented, Clutch Player, Oddly Undervalued.

   I'll begin by saying that I am a firm supporter of Ryan Tannehill and I wish him a speedy and full recovery.  That said, I have been crunching the numbers on Jay Cutler and I am very impressed by what I see.  A few trends have emerged:  Cutler has produced a high number of fourth quarter scoring drives.  More importantly, Cutler has improved teams after his arrival.  However, Cutler has also been subject to a great deal of cynicism and mistrust from fan bases and coaching staffs.  I am hoping that Miami will offer this talented player a warmer welcome.  Here are a few reasons to believe.
    In his first full season as a starting quarterback in Denver, Cutler led fourth quarter comebacks against the Bills and Raiders in his first two games.  In the Raiders game he also engineered an overtime drive to win.  In that same season, he led two additional drives to tie or win in the fourth quarter and overtime- and this was a first year starter.  In his second season Cutler led an additional 4 game winning drives.  Let's recap:  8 comebacks out of a rookie starter?  No wonder the season ended with comparisons to Manning and Brady.
     Despite this early success, Cutler met with a strange lack of popularity.  Despite only missing the playoffs on a season-ending game in which his defense surrendered 52 points, Cutler found himself suddenly on the outs.  Mike Shannahan was fired so the Broncos could make room for New England wunderkind Josh McDaniels.  McDaniels insinuated that Cutler was expendable.
       This may have temporarily endeared McDaniels to his new fan base.  Shannahan had inserted Cutler into Denver's lineup over the wildly popular Jake Plummer.  The team was 7-4 when Shannahan, induced by Cutler's talent, switched horses.  The rookie closed 2-3, and the Broncos missed the playoffs.  Cutler was an easy whipping boy, despite glamorous statistics and a solid record as as starter.
       When Cutler got wind that McDaniels was shopping him, he sold his house and asked for a trade.  Here I see the first of several career-long traits emerge.  Cutler wants to be valued.  And he is willing to go where he is wanted.  He is also fiercely proud and competitive.
     The aftermath for the Bears and Broncos in the next two seasons reveals Cutler's value.  McDaniels went on to an 11-17 record without Cutler and was fired in 18 months.  Cutler, meanwhile, went 19-13 in the next two seasons and had the Bears winning the NFC north.  The Bears had been 15-17 in the two seasons prior to Cutler's arrival.  The Broncos had been 18-14 prior to his departure.
    In Chicago, Cutler was often a punching bag, both for other teams' defensive lines and for the media. Cutler replaced a very popular Kyle Orton (who had saved the franchise from Rex Grossman) and Cutler had the misfortune of rolling into a working man's town as a heralded blue blood.  Although he was successful (twice winning a tough division in his first three years) the fan base never truly warmed.
    But Cutler remained ferociously competitive, once pushing an inept lineman in his huddle and lighting up Mike Martz for terrible protection schemes (he took 52 sacks that season) all while pushing a limited Bears roster to a division title.  However, the hits came at a price and Cutler was often injured.  Which leads to a closing thought.
     Cutler was injured in 2011 with the Bears sitting at 6-3.  His backups went 1-6.  In 2012, he sat for a concussion after leading the Bears to 7-1.  They lost the next two games.  Cutler returned and went 3-3, and the Bears missed the playoffs at 10-6.  Think about the WAR there:  Cutler was 17-7, his replacements were 1-8.  If this were baseball, a smart front office would have made him their franchise player.
    In sum, Jay Cutler should never have been available for the Dolphins to sign.  A perfect storm of under-appreciation and talent has ensued, which has given the Dolphins the unique opportunity to fall upwards.  Hey O line: protect this guy; he'll win.

Jay Lopez

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I share your optimism. Hope we're right. Going to be a Chinese fire drill getting the offense on the same page.


Great article Jay.

Did you know Cutler recently took all the WRs to a dinner to help build chemistry?


Exactly! He's a leader. Every coach he ever worked with endorses.


That's the trick- we need to manage early expectations. Going to be bad before it is good.


I always thought Cutler was better than the media gave him credit for. They are all sour puss on him because he doesn't really like them. I'm hoping for a Chad Pennington type season. GO PHINS~!


Good call, Gary. They hassle him over his resting face for Pete's sake.


Actually, if you sort through all the media garbage, you will find that 'Jay Cutler asked for his release', the Bears did not just dump him. No way was he going to tolerate the losing anymore. Bears, even with 19 players on IR last year were a 10-6 team that went 3-13. Pace has had great drafts, but there is something a bit off about that organization still.

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Jay, I am a new Miami supporter and your position is right on the money. The fans in Chicago, based upon their negative comments re Cutler, were not very knowledgeable re the TEAM concept. Cutler broke just about every QB record in the Bears' history book, but the detractors believed that a good QB was all that was necessary for success, and really only looked at the won/loss numbers. As a result, the QB was totally responsible for the losses, but in Chicago with Cutler, he was rarely responsible for the wins.
I have been a Cutler supporter since he was drafted by Shanahan in Denver, and have been an NFL fan for over over 50 years. And, IMO Cutler is a winner.

In Chicago, he had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL from 2009 thru 2013. In 2013, 4 of the 5 offensive linemen were replaced, which improved the line, but by this time the defense was on the downhill side of being good. Up until 2012, Jay had no wideouts who could have started on any other NFL team. In 2012, he got Brandon Marshall and his receiver situation began to improve, but with a defense that was fading fast, I don't believe any QB in the NFL could have done better than Jay did with the team he had to work with.

One key point to consider re Cutler. In his 8 seasons as a Bear, he has suffered thru 3 head coaches, 3 GMs, and 6 offensive coordinators, resulting 6 different offensive systems he had to learn. I doubt that any other QB in the NFL could have done better than Cutler did with what he had to work with. Again, consider the fact that he broke most of the QB records in the Bears' history.

By the way, of the 6 offensive coordinators Cutler had in Chicago, only Adam Gase was worth a schitt. Gase knows football, and I don't believe he was mistaken with his decision to bring Cutler (and me) to Miami, although Case probably didn't consider me in this decision.