While former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler was frequently criticized and mocked during his time with the Chicago Bears (2009-16), the reality is that he was far better than the quarterback play Chicago has had since. Cutler’s talent was never in question, and he looked like one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL at times. Additionally, he had to play behind some brutal offensive lines with Chicago, and he had to play under three different head coaches and six different offensive coordinators.
Well, Cutler — who’s currently in Chicago for a cornhole tournament — told the Chicago Sun-Times that he’s feeling a bit more appreciation from Bears fans these days than when he was actually playing for the team.
“I think maybe now there’s a little more appreciation for what I did while I was here,” he told the Sun-Times.
Additionally, Cutler was asked for thoughts on quarterback Justin Fields, who’s about to enter his second NFL season with the Bears.
Cutler said that he hopes Fields “is the next big thing” and becomes the “best quarterback to come out of Chicago Bears history.”
“If the Bears start winning… I hope they do. And I hope Justin is successful and I hope he’s the next big thing here and he’s the best quarterback to come out of Chicago Bears history.”
However, Cutler expressed concern that Fields — who Cutler notes has “all the tools” — won’t be put in a position to succeed, particularly citing the Bears’ coaching turnover and how difficult that can make things on a quarterback, as Cutler experienced in Chicago.
“I like him… he’s got all the tools, but it’s the same problem the Bears have had for a long time: They’re turning over coaches and turning over OCs,” Cutler said. “It’s hard for a quarterback. You look across the league and the guys that are really good at quarterback have the same coaches and same systems each year.”
“This is like learning a different language. It’s like if I told you: ‘Hey, you’ve gotta learn Spanish this year and next year learn Italian and the next year learn Chinese,’ it’s not gonna be easy.”
Former Bears head coach Matt Nagy was fired earlier in the offseason. Nagy has been heavily criticized for his handling of Fields in Chicago last season, beginning last training camp, where Fields got very reps with the first team (Andy Dalton began the season as the starter, and Nick Foles was also on the team). NFL evaluators were certainly not impressed with the game-planning and scheming Nagy had for Fields as a rookie.
The Bears replaced Nagy with Matt Eberflus (former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator) as head coach, and Eberflus hired Green Bay Packers passing game coordinator Luke Getsy to be the Bears’ new offensive coordinator. Getsy has drawn some praise for his quarterback-coaching abilities, and those around the Bears are optimistic he’s the right guy to help Fields take the next steps.
Firing Nagy and adding Getsy are smart moves for the Bears on the surface, but to Cutler’s point, coaching turnover can complicate things for quarterbacks- and especially for young quarterbacks that are still trying to figure things out. The hope for the Bears and Fields is that the new coaching staff proves to be good and stays in place for many years.
Now, there’s also the roster problem at the moment, for Fields. Chicago’s offensive line is full of question marks (and inexperience), and there’s one clearly good pass-catching option in place with wideout Darnell Mooney. With an unexciting supporting cast and a new coaching staff, it’s a really tough spot for a second-year quarterback.
Fields threw for seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 73.2 passer rating as a rookie, while adding 420 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. His talent and potential were very evident, but he’ll surely need more help around him going forward to become the quarterback he’s capable of being.