As all loyal Chicago sports fan eagerly anticipate Thursday's NFL draft, there will be numerous questions on what the Bears will do with their third overall pick. There will also be many questions from the Chicago fans on what kind of strategy their beloved football team should implement on Draft Day. From a logical standpoint, the Bears should most probably draft an impact player which is most needed at a particular position. One of the positions that needs a skilled leader is certainly the quarterback position. In the past offseason, the Chicago Bears have signed Mike Glennon. This was after they effectively released Jay Cutler.
This ultimately put an end to the Jay Cutler Era in Chicago sports history. While some Bears fans clearly bemoaned Jay Cutler's underachievement in both the regular and post season throughout his time in Chicago, other Bears fans clearly supported Jay Cutler and cheered for him as he became the Bears all-time franchise leader in multiple passing categories.
Whether your Bears fandom includes a specific preference for Jay Cutler or not; what the analysis of Jay Cutler's production as a QB tell us is there are two sides to every story. When it comes to analyzing Jay Cutler's performance in Chicago, the best way to describe it is parallel to the way Charles Dickens began his epic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, with "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Below, you will find an infographic describing Jay Cutler's unique and memorable (whether for a positive or negative reason) QB performance as A Tale of Two Cutlers.
While there were a multitude of different metrics we could look at to determine the level of Jay Cutler's performance as an NFL quarterback, and most notably as a member of the Chicago Bears for the last eight years, we decided to approach it in as much of a scientific manner as possible. We only took into consideration the metrics which he had the majority of control over (although sack and fumble totals could partially fall on the offensive line) and metrics which were quantifiable in some way. So, factors like leadership traits, media representation, etc. were not taken into consideration. It is also significant to note that his NFL income was left out of this analysis, since it would have been mostly a sunk cost (although in some years, it could be argued by some that he was overpaid for his abilities).
Overall, if you look at Jay Cutler's passer rating for his entire career, which can be split into his time as a Denver Bronco and as a Chicago Bear, compared to the Total NFL Passer Rating (which is qualified at NFL.com), some insights become instantly recognizable. First, Jay Cutler's passer rating, for the most part, increased as his career continued; as did the Total NFL Passer Rating during this time. Second, Jay Cutler was always ahead of the Total NFL Passer Rating during his time as a Denver Bronco, culminating in his 2008 Pro Bowl Selection. Third, Jay Cutler was ahead of the Total NFL Passer Rating only twice in his career as a Chicago Bear, in 2013 and 2015 (however, he was very close several of his other years as a Bear). Finally, you will notice that Jay Cutler's worst years, in terms of passing as compared to the Total NFL Passer Rating, were 2009, 2012, and 2016 (although he started very few games in 2016).
In terms of the balancing act that was his career, Jay Cutler achieved many great milestones. These included the Bears all-time franchise records in terms of passing yards, completions, passing touchdowns, and game-winning drives to name a few. Included on the positive side of the analysis of his career performance were also passing potential (where he performed much higher than his average while ahead in games, the sheer amount of wins he collected, and the fact that he was once a Pro Bowl Selection) as well as his famous arm strength, showcased by a plethora of completions over 20 and 40 yards throughout his career.
On the negative side of the analysis of his career performance was his lack of overall success in both the regular and post season as a starting quarterback. This was driven by his passing inconsistency, his high rate of turnovers, and also his lack of pocket mobility. However, it should be noted that in terms of sacks and fumbles, some of this could have been caused by his offensive line. Even so, these are still extremely high turnover margins.
Overall, there is no way we will ever be able to sum up Jay Cutler's entire career as a Chicago Bear (or a Denver Bronco) with an infographic. However, we can show, in a very compelling visualization, that his story illustrated alternating, polarizing performances. This has produced a blurred perspective of the quarterback that he had been before the Bears and the quarterback which he was during both his ups and downs as a Bear. Ultimately, it can always inspire discussion into what could have been.
It will be up to you, the reader, to decide whether Jay Cutler was an elite quarterback or simply put, an underachiever. Or even some form of hybrid quarterback in-between. What can be said is that his performance during his career to date has been a "A Tale of Two Cutlers" in the way in which he both became one of the all-time Bears greats offensively while simultaneously becoming the center of many Chicago football fans' disappointment in recent years.
For me personally, I am optimistic about the Chicago Bears and will be cheering them on during this year's draft. After last year, they have no where to go but up. I will leave my opinion at that.
Please feel free to share this with all of your friends, family, and colleagues. Have a great time viewing the NFL Draft tomorrow.
All the best,
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