It’s time for Jay Cutler’s (naked) vacation to end.
With Tony Romo choosing to retire, Cutler is officially the best quarterback available on the open market, and the Texans still desperately need a competent QB. The dots connect themselves. The Texans should rebound from Romo’s retirement by signing Cutler. It might not be the marriage they wanted, but it’s one that could save their season.
With their playoff-caliber defense, receiving corps and running back already in place, the Texans are only lacking a quarterback. It’s been that way for a while now. The Texans have made the playoffs in consecutive seasons with their defense, but they’ve failed to make any noise in January because they’ve been forced to trot out guys like Brian Hoyer and Brock Osweiler for the playoffs.
After the 2015 season, the Texans lost 30-0 to the Chiefs in the wild-card round when Hoyer threw four interceptions. In January, they fell to the Patriots in the divisional round when Osweiler tossed three picks. Losing to the Patriots isn’t something to be embarrassed about, but continually wasting a playoff-caliber defense (that ranked first in yards allowed, 11th in points allowed, and seventh in DVOA last year without J.J. Watt) isn’t ideal.
Say what you want about Cutler -- he’s never lived up to his potential, he’s a lightning rod for controversy, he’s coming off major shoulder surgery -- but he’d be the best quarterback the Texans have had since, well, forever. Cutler would come in and immediately turn the Texans into fringe Super Bowl contenders.
It’s been a while since Cutler has been on a team that’s featured a competent defense, which means it can be easy to forget how good Cutler actually was back when the Bears had a playoff-caliber defense. From 2010-12, when the Bears’ defense was the strength of their team, Cutler guided them to a 27-13 record. He won the seventh-most games in that span despite the fact that he missed eight games.
I know what you’re thinking: Every quarterback could’ve won those games with that defense, right? The answer is no. Cutler’s backups went 2-6 in that span.
That doesn’t mean Cutler will a win Super Bowl in Houston. He’s a good, not great quarterback who experiences extreme peaks and valleys. But he also represents the Texans’ best bet to win a championship. Their defense isn’t dominant enough to follow the 2015 Broncos’ blueprint, when they used the corpse of Peyton Manning to win a Super Bowl. The Texans’ blueprint should be similar to that of the Ravens from a few years ago, when Joe Flacco caught fire in the postseason. Except the Texans’ defense is better than that Ravens’ defense. And Cutler is better than Flacco.
Still doubt his ability to play? In 2015, he posted the strongest numbers of his career before his 2016 season was ruined by injuries.
“My experience with him was very good,” he continued. “I don’t get all the hatred towards him. I see a guy that worked hard and did everything he could to help his team win. He sacrificed his body. To me, he was an athletic quarterback that can throw the ball. When you got to third down you could call the worst play possible and he would get the conversion. He made a lot of things that we did look really good. I think he has a lot to offer a team.”
As our Ryan Wilson already broke down, the Texans could very well decide to: 1. give Tom Savage the full-time starting job, or 2. draft a quarterback to compete with Savage. But those paths are flawed -- at least more so than signing Cuter. If Savage was ready to quarterback a playoff team, why were the Texans in the market for Romo in the first place? Furthermore, why couldn’t Savage beat out Osweiler and hang on to the job last year? The answer is at least somewhat related to Savage’s talent level.
The Texans can’t afford to waste time with an unproven rookie quarterback. Watt is coming off back surgery, Jadeveon Clowney is nearing the end of his rookie deal, Lamar Miller is in the prime of his career, and DeAndre Hopkins is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2017 season. The Titans are also on the rise, the Colts likely won’t waste Andrew Luck forever, and the Jaguars have to get good at some point (OK, maybe not). The point being, the Texans are in the middle of their championship window.
That’s why I’m guessing Cutler would happily end his vacation. I never really saw him signing with a bad team so that he could serve as a punching bag -- been there, done that. What he wants at this stage in his career, I’m guessing, is to prove that he can win games. He can do that in Houston, throwing bombs to another big target in Hopkins. And don’t tell me the Texans can’t afford to sign Cutler to a fair contract. This is the team that handed Osweiler $37 million in guaranteed money without even meeting with him.
Like it or not, this marriage makes sense for both sides. It’s time for the Texans to move on from their dream of acquiring Romo (sorry, we got him) and sign the next best option. And, of course, it’s time for Cutler to put his pants back on. Thanks to Romo’s retirement, Cutler’s dream job just became available.