Chicago Bears Football- There has been a lot of pressure thrust on the shoulders of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler heading into the 2014 season. Fresh off signing a 7-year, $126.7 contract extension, Cutler is also entering his second year in head coach Marc Trestman’s offensive system. “The Quarterback Whisperer”, as he is widely known around the NFL, was brought in to work specifically with Cutler and make him into a Super Bowl caliber QB.
After one season with Trestman’s system, there were definitely signs of hope. Jay set new career highs in multiple categories including yards per game and passer rating, all while only suiting up in 11 of the team’s 16 contests. Heading into Year 2, Cutler shares an eerily similar stat line to another Trestman-coached quarterback, Rich Gannon.
B-Marsh Knows What He’s Talking About
Everyone thought Brandon Marshall was crazy when he said Jay would be the NFL MVP this season. Sure he may have been exaggerating a little in an attempt to get more footballs thrown his way, but when you look at the numbers closely, Marshall might not be that far fetched.
Okay, maybe these numbers aren’t quite that close, but that’s because Cutler’s are based off his 11 games played compared to Gannon’s 16. So let’s extrapolate. Assuming Cutler were to produce the same numbers he did through 11 games, let’s project what that would look like on a 16-game schedule.
That’s more like it. Only thing that really sticks out as being different between these two are Cutler’s interception numbers. Is has always been a weakness of Jay’s dating back to his days with the Broncos. In his eight-year career, he’s only thrown single-digit interceptions twice (2006 and 2011), both of those times he didn’t play a full season (5 and 10 games respectively).
Jay has always been known for his arm, which has put him in more sticky situations than Bears fans would care to remember. With another year in Trestman’s system though, it is expected that Jay will rely less on his arm and more on the reads that are produced through the offensive sets.
The Surrounding Pieces
It is also worth noting that Jay has an overall better core surrounding him than Gannon did. During Cannon Gannon’s MVP season of 2002, Oakland only had one receiver eclipse the 1,000-yard mark (Jerry Rice- 1,211). Last year, Chicago had two (Alshon Jeffery- 1,421 and Brandon Marshall- 1,295). Also, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte rushed for 1,339 yards and compiled 1,933 total yards in 2013 compared to Oakland’s Charlie Garner’s 962 rushing yards in 2002.
Marc Trestman’s system is predicated on getting the ball out quick. Even with this, the offensive line protection is key in order to give the quarterback enough time to read the defense. In 2002, Rich Gannon was sacked 36 times throughout the course of the season. Last year, the Chicago Bears quarterbacks only hit the ground 30.
Everything is Set for Success
In a season that will return all 11 starters on the offensive side of the football, saying that things are set up for Cutler to succeed would be an understatement. With a Pro Bowl running back, two receivers coming off 1,000+-yard seasons, an offensive line that ranked fifth in pass protection for 2013 and another year under Marc Trestman’s offense, everything is set for a possible MVP-caliber season out of Cutler. With history is on Jay’s side, the only thing he needs to do now is follow the path.