The next two weeks of the regular season may very well decide Cutler’s future with the Chicago Bears. Chicago took sole possession of the NFC north on the heels of a Baltimore Ravens 18-16 victory over the Detroit Lions on December 16th. Justin Tucker answered the call for Chicago fans barely making a 61-yard field goal, creating a do or die situation for the Bears enigmatic starting quarterback, Jay Cutler.
It is now Cutler’s time to prove his worth to the future of this organization. The final two games carry perhaps the most weight of any of Cutlers career. As the Bears now control their own destiny, Cutler needs to step up and get this team to the post-season. If he succeeds, he will surely find himself signing a large contract come the off-season. If not, Chicago could let him walk, considering how well his backup has played in his absence.
It’s hard to ignore McCown’s stellar growth in Trestman’s system, and the overall production of the surrounding weapons. This is the situation for Cutler now – prove he’s the guy by winning out the final two games or his time in Chicago is up. If Cutler can’t get it done with the position the Bears are in, then he has squandered perhaps his best hopes of gaining leverage in contract negotiations.
With games against the Eagles and Packers, Cutler surely has his hands full. The Eagles high octane offense will be difficult to keep pace with, and the Bears will be going up against the league’s leading rusher in Lesean Mccoy (1,343 yards). With the league’s worst ranked rushing defense, Cutler will have to operate the offense at an extremely high efficiency to keep pace. The Bears risk falling behind to quickly if Cutler can’t control his turnovers or fails to keep drives alive. It’s fair to say that the defense will have to put forth a stellar effort, but Cutler needs to keep lighting up the scoreboard if the Bears are to have any chance at potentially clinching a playoff spot tonight.
The following week finds the Bears at home against Green Bay. Cutler has had a rough time dealing with the 3-4 defense of Packers defensive coordinator, Don Capers. With Aaron Rodgers potentially returning, that game will be an example of whether or not Cutler has grown as he has yet to play them this year due to his injury.
It’s now on Cutlers shoulders to take advantage of Josh’s stellar play that kept this team in contention over the last few weeks. Leading the division, the Bears now control their own destiny. Jay just has to win these next two games. If Cutler can elevate his play and beat both the Eagles and Packers and stroll into the playoffs, Bears’ fans have their future at the quarterback position. It’s what this season was for – evaluate Cutler. Can he lead this team to the playoffs? Can he beat the Packers? It’s all been laid out for him now.
There is no doubt that if Cutler can keep it together and play some great football, the Bears will be paying him once its time for contract negotiations to begin. As I stated in a previous article, the Bears defense needs a rebuild, and if Cutler can take care of business, it will make Emery’s job much easier come the off-season; giving him wiggle room with cap space by getting a multi-year contract done. He could go with a draft pick at the quarterback position, but if Cutler can prove he is the guy, it frees up the ability to draft for the defensive side and fix the ailments on that side of the ball.
If Cutler tail spins and the Bears lose the division, you can bet Cutler walks. These are the moments you want your franchise quarterback to play his best, show poise, and elevate his team around him. There are no more excuses available for Cutler this year. Trestman has put the system in place, Emery gave him the line and weapons that make a top tier offense, and McCown played too well to be ignored. It’s finally time for those who supported Jay all these years to get that definitive answer; I’ve always been one of them. It hasn’t been easy for Jay through his tenure in Chicago – bad drafting, horrid offensive line play, no receivers, and four different play callers means Cutler never had a chance to shine. He sure does now; Jeffries is playing at a pro bowl level, as is Forte, Marshall, and some of the linemen. This is Cutler’s time, this is his team, and if he can get the Bears to playoffs he will have proved what his supporters have always believed – give him the chance to shine and watch incredible talent transcend into the Bears future at the quarterback position for years to come.