On April 9th, 2009, there was a buzz in this town that a Bears fan had not seen since the 2006 Super Bowl run. The Bears had traded for Jay Cutler, and finally, the Monsters of the Midway would have the Franchise Quarterback they always dreamed of.
But almost a decade later, many fans have come to realize the true reality that Cutler’s tenure never lived up to the hype the Bears sold them on that spring.
Coming off of his lone Pro Bowl Season in 2008, the disgruntled Cutler would always flash potential, but never truly was the quarterback everyone thought he could be. His flaws outweighed his raw talent. The Bears mortgaged their future to trade for a quarterback who was slightly above average at best, and the biggest trade in Bears history at that point finished with just one playoff run to show for it.
The Cutler trade was deemed the trade of the decade by many fans and of course by the Bears front office at the time. But on the heels of what was really the biggest trade in Bears history this past weekend, it brings into perspective just how flawed the ‘promising’ Jay Cutler was when making that trade, and how Khalil Mack is the proven star Bears fans have been waiting for.
The Bears have acquired arguably the best defensive player in football in the prime of his career. Players of his caliber rarely become available if ever, so the Bears are thanking John Gruden profusely.
In his first four years in the league, Mack has made 3 Pro Bowls, has been named Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and already has totaled 40.5 sacks. Since 2015, he has averaged double-digit sacks each season.
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) September 1, 2018
Mack has proven himself as an all-pro and an elite player in this league at just 27 years old and his best is yet to come. Bears fans should be excited for what they will be seeing every Sunday, as other teams have already created ‘Mack Protection’ plans on their offensive line. Just ask Sean Payton and the Saints.
"He changes the game no matter where he lines up."
— NFL (@NFL) September 4, 2018
The Bears are getting a player that changes everything for them as a franchise.
His presence on defense can change the trajectory of a game in an instant, and his play alone can give this team a chance to win every time they step onto the field. The expectations for this season have been raised significantly and the Bears are telling the fans that their window has opened for contending, so get ready.
When the Bears acquired Jay Cutler, the front office and their fans (myself included) were sold on the potential of the rocket arm that could take the team to the Super Bowl. But the coaching carousel, inept offensive roster and flawed quarterback play proved to be Cutler’s undoing in Chicago, even after his last unnecessary contract extension under Phil Emery.
As a Bears fan, I know how starved Bears fans have been for an elite or even serviceable quarterback to lead the team to glory. And I think that is why fans became so enamored with the idea of Cutler instead of delving into the reality of the kind of player the Bears were truly getting in 2009. Fans were blinded by the simple idea that getting Cutler would solve all the Bears problems, especially in a position that has eluded the franchise for generations. The acquisition of Cutler was checking off a box for the Jerry Angelo and the Bears, as getting a quarterback that looked good on paper, would be enough to finally fill that position. While of course, they wanted him to be more than that, I think they sold themselves on his potential and were not privy to the reality of his skill set.
Unlike Cutler, there are no doubts or question marks about what kind of player Khalil Mack will be for the Bears. The ruthless defender will put fear in the eyes of his opponents and just his presence has probably forced the Packers to completely scrap their Week 1 game plan, now that the ‘Mack Attack’ will be on full display.
I’m not saying the Bears are going to beat the Packers on Sunday.
— Chicago Bear Pause (@ChicagoBearPaws) September 5, 2018
With Khalil Mack, the Bears are not betting on potential like they were with Cutler. There is indisputable evidence over the last 4 years that Khalil Mack is the most dominant defender in the NFL and will continue to do so now in the blue and orange.
The Bears are not waiting and hoping for Mack to be their savior, but instead have built a core that is ready to win now and were simply missing that one star-piece in Mack, to make this team into a Super Bowl contender over the next few years.
The Bears and their fans know what Mack will bring to Chicago, and they are ready to see him etch his name in the team’s storied defensive history.
While Cutler broke every passing record to date that the Bears had, his tenure in Chicago will always be viewed with a “What If” mentality. For Mack, it doesn’t matter who the coach is, or what the scheme is or who the players around him are. He will dominate his opponent at the line of scrimmage no matter what.
His success relies on no one, while Cutler’s success relied on everyone around him.
Just as excited as Bears fans were in 2009, they should be even more excited in 2018. After 7 miserable seasons, the Bears finally have their franchise player. Khalil Mack will bring an energy and excitement to Soldier Field that has not been seen in almost a decade. And I know myself and the rest of Bears nation cannot wait.