The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.
The most controversial, frustrating and enigmatic player on the Bears roster has been controversial, frustrating an enigmatic. If one just looked at his numbers, one would be impressed as Cutler is well on-pace to record the greatest quarterbacking season in the history of the organization. (On pace stats are silly but Cutler’s would be 67.2%-almost 4,200 yards-34 touchdowns-16 interceptions-95.8 rating.) But he’s turned the ball over far too much, especially losing fumbles with poor ball security, and his interceptions at the ends of the Buffalo and Carolina games were crippling.
Worst of all is Cutler seems lost in the offense. The constant stream of useless flat routes don’t play to his strengths. The quick-drop, quick-release approach that defined Marc Trestman’s Raiders unit under Rich Gannon have been replaced by the all-too-common Cutler stands in the pocket for a few moments and flings the ball into coverage. And how many times has Cutler sent a pass into a space, expecting a receiver to be there and been intercepted? If it were not for the reliability of Matt Forte one would not be remiss to wonder if this offense would score any points at all.
When an offense struggles, as the Bears have, they must rely on their quarterback to lead them back to normalcy. Running backs can’t do it. (Thomas Jones tried here in a Super Bowl.) Wide receivers certainly can’t do it. Olin Kreutz was reportedly a great leader and he led a terrible offense for a long, long period. You can criticize Aaron Rodgers all you want but his “relax” message resonated in the Packers locker room and they responded. Matthew Stafford’s injured Lions have been awful on offense but there he is, every fourth quarter, still fighting. Emery stated as his press conference that Cutler’s leadership has been “at a premium” through the team’s struggles. But is any of that leadership translating onto the field?