Bears get Cutler | Pace, too | Judge: Why, Bears?
I love NFL first-round draft picks.
I love franchise quarterbacks even more.
So when breaking down the Chicago Bears decision to trade two first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Kyle Orton to land franchise passer Jay Cutler from Denver Broncos, the price appears steep, but it isn't when you land a 25-year-old quarterback with Cutler's skills.
Chicago has needed a real passer since the days of Sid Luckman.
That was 60 years ago.
That's a long, long time.
You want proof: The Bears changed quarterbacks more than 40 times since the early 1990s.
It's a who's-who of stiffs who have started at quarterback for the Bears the past couple of decades.
Here are a few of them. Tell me to stop when you see a passer worth a damn: Moses Moreno. Steve Stenstrom. Jonathan Quinn. Craig Krenzel. Jim Miller. Will Furrer. Peter Tom Willis. That's not even including the horrors of trying to watch Bobby Douglass throw a football in the early 1970s. He made Mike Vick look like Dan Marino.
On and on it goes.
Cutler stops it. Orton didn't. That's why this deal works.
Cutler threw 25 touchdown passes last season. Only two Bears quarterbacks have done that. One was Luckman, who threw 28 in 1943. The other was Erik Kramer, who threw 29 in 1995.
The Bears finished 21st in passing last year, but that won't happen with Cutler. Of course, now the offense has to change.
The belief in Chicago is you always run it and play good defense. That can get you only so far. With all the rules changes the past 10 years, you have to throw it to score. With Cutler and fleet running back Matt Forte, the Bears need to play a more wide-open style of offense. It will be interesting to see how that changes.
|Cutler's cannon will help the Bears win some games. (US Presswire)|
Smith is smart like Dungy. He will change, too.
It can be tough to throw in the Chicago weather, but Cutler has the arm to do so. And, really, how many games does the weather truly factor, maybe one or two a season?
The Bears don't have great receivers, but that could have been a product of poor quarterback play. I remember at the Super Bowl this year when Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald was asked about playing with Kurt Warner.
Fitzgerald said he thought great quarterbacks make receivers, not the other way around. He also said he felt sorry for those receivers who didn't get to play with a quarterback who could deliver the ball on time and accurately.
That's been the case in Chicago for some time. With Cutler, I look for the receivers to play better. Smith was already singing the praises of second-year receiver Earl Bennett. Now with Cutler, his former college teammate at Vanderbilt coming on board, Bennett should flourish even more. I see a fantasy sleeper.
The Bears have never had a 4,000-yard passing season in their history. Curler had one last year at the age of 25.
You can't discount that.
The hurt in this deal has to be in Denver. What is that team doing? If the season opened today, the Broncos would start either Orton or Chris Simms at quarterback. I like Simms. But he isn't Cutler.
Want to bet Brandon Marshall is about to find all about Fitzgerald's theory on quarterbacks making receivers? The Broncos do have the 12th and 18th pick in the first round -- the latter they got from the Bears -- so they can land a quarterback in the first round. Georgia's Matt Stafford will be gone and USC's Mark Sanchez might be as well. That could mean a trade up or taking Kansas State's Josh Freeman.
"I like Freeman more than Sanchez," one NFC personnel director said. "I just think he might take some time."
Does new coach Josh McDaniels have time? He better hope so. When owner Pat Bowlen replaced Mike Shanahan with McDaniels, it had to be met with snickers around the league. Now it's even more so.
"They didn't handle this very well," the NFC personnel director said. "It looks bad."
If there is any consolation for the Broncos it is this: Baltimore landed Joe Flacco with the 18th pick in last year's draft. So finding a franchise passer late is possible, but unlikely.
That leaves Denver in the same situation Chicago has been in most of the past 60 years, which is looking for a real quarterback.
Caretaker. Serviceable. Game manager.
Those words have been used plenty in Chicago when talking about the quarterback position during the past two and half decades. No more.
The Bears landed a franchise passer Thursday. Sid Luckman now has company, a Bears quarterback who can throw for big numbers.
For that, even draft picks, which I value greatly, are worth trading away.