Bears get Cutler | Pace, too | Prisco: Bears get their man
You heard me. Orton can't throw the ball as far or as straight as Cutler, and you won't find anyone drooling over the velocity of his passes. But he has something Cutler does not, and that's a high score in the leadership department -- and, sorry, but I'll take that over physical ability any day.
|Jay Cutler has never made the playoffs or had a winning season. (Getty Images)|
At the NFL winter meetings last month, Chicago coach Lovie Smith said the Bears were a running team that had to play good defense, and no one disagreed. So what's a running team doing acquiring a quarterback who can throw the ball the length of Michigan Avenue? You tell me, because I think the Bears were better off with Orton.
He fit their personality. He wasn't flashy, but he was effective before suffering an ankle injury. He was tough. He was gritty. And he won. Look it up: His record as a starter is 21–12, not bad for someone critics portray as the NFL's version of the Venus De Milo. Cutler is 17-20, never made the playoffs and never had a winning season.
So the Bears trade away Orton and three draft picks and, sorry, Chicago, your team just got fleeced. You need offensive linemen. You need receivers. You need a defense that must play better. Yet you just traded away the first round for a couple of years for a guy who throws a pretty pass and can't play .500 football in the AFC West.
Tell me Chicago knows what it's doing.
Smith had it right when he said you win in Chicago by running the ball and playing solid defense. The 1985 Bears had Walter Payton, a lights-out defense and Jim McMahon at quarterback. McMahon was tough, gritty and capable of big plays when you needed them, but he was hardly the second coming of Sid Luckman. He was perfect for that team because he epitomized its personality -- which was tough, gritty -- yeah, I think you get the idea.
Anyway, the Bears have to be that way because when it's November and December on Lake Shore Drive you don't win by having Jay Cutler throw the ball into 40 mph winds. You win by running, locking down your opponents and avoiding mistakes. Anyone have any idea how many interceptions Cutler launched last year? I do. It was 18, and only Brett Favre had more.
Then there's the matter of what Chicago gave up -- two first-rounders, a third-rounder and Orton. Are you kidding me? So Cutler was a Pro Bowl quarterback. Big deal. DeAngelo Williams wasn't elected to the team, which should tell you about the credibility of the honor. I won't argue that Cutler is one of the most talented quarterbacks in today's game, but I also won't argue that he's one of the most spoiled prima donnas, either.
All you need to know about this guy is that he once said he had "a stronger arm than John [Elway], hands down" and that "he'd bet on it against anybody's in the league" -- as if that somehow measured his greatness. First of all, I don't know that he has a stronger arm than Elway. I don't know that anyone does. Second, Elway made a name for himself not with his arm but with wins and fourth-quarter comebacks. In his second year, Elway went 13-3 and won the AFC West. In his third year, he was 11-5. And in his fourth, he was in the Super Bowl. That's how you measure quarterbacks, Cutler, not by arm strength.
Third, let's say you buy into Cutler as a franchise quarterback. OK, fine. So where's his franchise wide receiver? Devin Hester? Please. Earl Bennett? You've got to be kidding. There isn't one. Which is why I would have much rather seen the Bears hang on to the draft picks and invest them in something more worthwhile -- like an offensive tackle and cornerback -- or two offensive tackles -- or an offensive tackle and a wide receiver.
I imagine they'll find them anyway, but they just mortgaged the future for a quarterback who, when faced with winning only one of his last three starts last season, couldn't close the deal. Now he's going to magically transform the Bears into a division champion all over again when he couldn't do it with Mike Shanahan in the AFC West? There's a better chance of Terrell Owens serving as grand marshal at the next Mummers Parade.
And who's going to protect Cutler's back? Chris Williams? He can't protect his own back. I know the Bears think he'll be OK, but that's what they said when they drafted him, and look how much he started last year. He didn't. Orlando Pace? St. Louis was only too glad to let him walk, and the Rams’ offensive line was horrible last season.
At least Denver knew how to protect Cutler. He was sacked 11 times all season, and the Broncos ranked first in sacks per pass play. Tell me how Chicago gives him that kind of protection. It can't. It can't give him Ryan Clady, either. Or Brandon Marshall. Or Eddie Royal.
Finally, there's Cutler's personality. Cutler is a guy who whined about Philip Rivers' behavior when he and the San Diego Chargers drilled the Broncos, and he's someone who demanded a trade when the Broncos had the temerity to throw his name around in the Matt Cassel talks -- as if he deserved better. Well, then, tell me how he's going to act when Jared Allen stands him on his head three times in one afternoon or when Earl Bennett flubs a pass or when he can't feel his fingers in mid-December?
I just don't see how he fits in Chicago, and I don't see why the Bears decided to dump their first round -- as well as their quarterback -- for someone who has done nothing in three years.
Good luck, Chicago. You wanted him. You have him. Now let's see you win with him.