Just over a year ago, Jay Cutler was benched for Jimmy Clausen. Think about that for a second -- and what it would do to the confidence of any player previously considered to be a franchise quarterback. But then-Bears coach Marc Trestman was fired, and he was replaced by John Fox, who brought offensive coordinator Adam Gase with him from Denver.
And Gase, it turns out, proved to make all the difference.
From 2012-2014, Cutler never finished higher than 16th in total QB value, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. In 2015, Gase's first year in Chicago, Cutler finished 10th, just behind Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford.
Specifically, Cutler threw for 3,659 yards with 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, a completion percentage of 64.4 and a passer rating of 92.3. And it was that turnaround that played a vital role in the Dolphins' decision to hire Gase as their new head coach. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill has all the physical tools, but regressed in 2015. And now it will be up to Gase to change that.
Cutler has full faith that his former offensive coordinator will do just that.
“I couldn’t be happier for Adam and his family,” Cutler said in a statement posted to the Bears' website. “He has worked extremely hard his entire career and is very deserving of this opportunity. I wish he could stay with us in Chicago, but everyone has a journey and this is the next part of his.
“His work with quarterbacks is well documented and I know firsthand how good he is. He will now continue to have success in this league as a head coach. I thank him for all his hard work and look forward to following this next step in his career.”
Cutler isn't alone in offering a glowing recommendation. Peyton Manning, who worked with Gase in Denver prior to the 2015 season, said this 12 months ago, when Gase was mentioned as head-coaching material:
"I don't think you need me to sit up here and campaign for him, I guess,'' Manning said at the time. "Last year I talked to a couple teams on the behalf of him that reached out to me. That may happen again, so I'm certainly glad to share my thoughts, I mean it's pretty well documented my thoughts on him because I don't think he needs me to stand up here and campaign for him. I'm excited he has the opportunity he's going to have this week. He deserves it, I think teams that he talks to will be impressed. ...
"[These are] opportunities he deserves,'' he continued. "... Adam's always had his priorities in the right order ... He deserves it.''
And now Gase will be tasked with fixing Tannehill, who ranked 26th in total QB value this season -- just ahead of Ryan Mallett -- after finishing 12th in 2014.