Will Bears QB Cutler Step Up Come His Playoff Debut?

Jay Cutler drives me crazy. Watching him engineer (and/or screw up) drives causes me to have an inner dialogue that goes something like this…

Jay Cutler sucks.

No wait, I didn’t mean that. He’s the best passer of balls the quarterback-starved Bears have had in 20+ years and we’re lucky to have him.

But damnit, the guy makes too many idiotic throws.

Who cares, dawg – he has an absolute canon for an arm that no other QB in the league possesses.

Yeah, well he’s an arrogant, pompous ass who doesn’t even look media members in the eye when he answers their questions at press conferences.

So what, he’s a little cocky. I want the QB of my team – that happens to reside in the 2nd largest media market in the league – to be on the confident side. And who gives a shit what the media says about him. As long as he has the respect of his teammates and coaches, I wouldn’t care if he scratched his balls in the middle of a presser.

Like it or not, the Bears 2010 playoff run depends on two factors – Cutler’s right arm and Cutler’s right brain.

Jay’s a little more than a week away from starting his first-ever playoff game. The guy with the up-and-down career hasn’t thrown a pass in a pressure-packed playoff game since he was a high-schooler in Santa Claus, Indiana. But something tells me Cutler is about to gain legendary status with Bears fans this postseason.

How do I know? I’ll admit, most of it is probably just wishful thinking…but I think it also has a lot to do with these 3 things:

1) His physical ability.

Cutler has more talent in his right arm than past Bear signal callers Steve Fuller, Mike Tomzack, Rick Mirer, Shane Mathews, Cade McNown, Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno, Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson have in their bodies combined.

He can also get first downs with his feet (geez, stop drooling Rex). And despite playing behind an often porous line that’s led to him being the most sacked QB in the league, Cutler’s proved his durability, missing only one game vs. the Panthers.

2)     His mental toughness.

We probably have Cutler’s former coach in Denver, Mike Shanahan, to thank for this, but #6 has the mental fortitude to overcome unfortunate events during the course of a game. He won’t be fazed if a play or two (or twelve) doesn’t go his way.

I’d much rather have him possess a short memory that keeps him on the attack rather than question himself, worrying over whether his next pass will end up in the hands of a receiver or an opposing cornerback.

His aggressive approach will always lead to picks. But how he responds to adversity is what I’m banking on. Remember his first ever game as a Bear? Cutler threw 4 interceptions before leading the Bears down the field to take the lead with a few minutes to go in the game.

Sure, Rodgers led the Packers back for the go-ahead score, but Cutler proved his resiliency.

3) He’s played his best football as of late.

Rumor has it you want your quarterback playing his best ball entering the playoffs. I know he had a bad game in Green Bay (6 sacks didn’t help), but his last 9 games have arguably been the best long stretch of his short career.

Here’s a look at his stats before and after the bye in week 8:

6 games
before bye
9 games
after bye
Completion % 63% 60%
Touchdowns 7 16
Interceptions 7 9
Rating 82 89

While these numbers won’t blow you away, they do show he’s had a higher rating and thrown less INTs (on average) over the longer, 2nd half haul…which has included a 2-2 split of games against playoff teams in the Patriots, Eagles, Jets and Packers.

Sometimes being average is good.

I read an article on Yahoo! Sports that ranked Cutler the 8th best QB in the playoffs, ahead of only Matt Cassel, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez and Charlie Whitehurst. That’s probably accurate considering the guys ahead of him include names like Brady, Manning, Brees and Vick.

But Cutler doesn’t have to be an All-Pro during the playoffs. He can be an Average Joe and the Bears will have a good chance of advancing to the Super Bowl. He just has to avoid those costly, game-changing plays that take certain points off the board for the Bears or lead directly to points for the opponent.

I recognize Cutler will never be Peyton Manning. Maybe he can settle for being the next Trent Dilfer…who just so happens to have as many Super Bowl rings as Manning.

What do you think – can we trust Jay Cutler yet?

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One Response to “Will Bears QB Cutler Step Up Come His Playoff Debut?”

  1. SW says:

    Am willing to give it a shot! Go Cutler! Go Bears!