On this date in 2009, the Chicago Bears acquired a 25-year-old quarterback who was coming off a Pro Bowl season where he threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Happy ninth anniversary to the Jay Cutler trade, everybody!
There was understandable excitement surrounding the Cutler deal at the time. He had a first-round pedigree and a rocket for an arm, but the Bears were never able to harness his talent and athleticism. Simply mentioning Cutler will set off a firestorm that eventually leads to the blame game. Without diving too deep into history, it’s worth noting that there’s plenty of blame to go around, and it probably shouldn’t all land on Cutler’s shoulders.
For what it’s worth, Bears GM Ryan Pace is doing his best not to repeat the mistakes the front office made in the Cutler era. This offseason, the Bears have surrounded Mitch Trubisky with an offensive-minded head coach, an offensive coordinator with a reputation of quarterback development, and talented pass-catchers on the outside.
Next up is improving the offensive line, right?
- I find myself looking at this stat in amazement knowing it had to take a ton of work for Trubisky to get this good in this particular area when you consider the talent around him and the play calling that put the Bears in these situations in the first place:
Carson Wentz was the NFL's most efficient QB on 3rd-and-6+ in 2017 pic.twitter.com/L24DSsuleS
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 29, 2018
- As an optimist, I hold out hope that Trubisky will have a better fate in Chicago than Cutler did. And the fact that we’ve seen analysts praise the Bears’ offseason moves to the point where one picked them to be 2018’s Cinderella story has me feeling something special about the overall direction of the franchise.
- You can add ESPN’s Matt Bowen to group of analysts who believe Trubisky is poised for a big season in 2018. Bowen put together a list of second-year players on the verge of taking a major leap. It’s an ESPN Insider piece, so I can’t share much, but it’s worth noting that Trubisky sits at the top of Bowen’s list. Bowen sees the upgrades around the offense (Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel) as primary reasons Trubisky will improve upon what he showed in his rookie season. Further, Bowen sees what Sean McVay did with Jared Goff as a blueprint for what Trubisky could be under Matt Nagy. Bowen describe’s Nagy’s offense as “a modern twist on the west coast passing game” and believes it should kick the Bears into gear in 2018. And we are *totally* here for it.
- I try to avoid “what if?” scenarios as often as possible, but JJ Stankevitz’s piece at NBC Sports Chicago where he speaks with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has me in thinking-face-emoji mode. Payton said running back Tarik Cohen “was a target” for the Saints and had him pegged as a fourth-rounder. But because they had Alvin Kamara on their board as a second-rounder, the Saints made their move to take Kamara. If you’ll recall, the FOX broadcast team mentioned that Kamara had told them the Bears came off as a team that was very interested in him during the pre-draft process when New Orleans and Chicago played in Week 8. The Bears, of course, could have taken Kamara in the second round but instead chose tight end Adam Shaheen. Kamara ended up going to the Saints with their third-round pick, which was acquired from San Francisco … via the Bears, who sent that pick in the Trubisky trade.
- Talk about a tangled web…
- Still, the Bears should be pleased with what they have at running back with Cohen and Jordan Howard. It’s a thunder-and-lightning tandem that features Howard (thunder) as more of a traditional running back and Cohen (lightning) as a burner and mismatch nightmare in the passing game. And while that’s nice, the Bears don’t have someone in the middle, which could be something the team looks for in the draft later this month.
- But first, some important offseason dates:
- New Minnesota Vikings receiver Kendall Wright has some high hopes about what is coming in the pipeline now that he gets to play with Kirk Cousins, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. “I’ve played with countless quarterbacks in my career,” Wright said in a conference call with reporters. “I’ve never played with one of Kirk Cousins’ caliber.” Wright has caught touchdown passes from 12 different quarterbacks (make that 13, lest we forget about Tarik Cohen’s touchdown toss), so it’s safe to say Wright is looking forward to having some stability at the position.
- Punter Marquette King is still a free agent, and a pair of Raiders reporters have shared some insight on why the team would dump its best special teams player:
There were whispers of King’s personality not clicking with Gruden’s. I should have listened better. Coach didn’t want to spend a lot of money on punter who gets personal fouls. #Raiders
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) March 30, 2018
— Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonNFL) March 30, 2018
- By cutting King, Oakland also saves $2.9 million in salary cap space. So while there were financial implications, it sure does feel like this was a battle of strong personalities in which new head coach Jon Gruden emerges as the winner.
- ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss tweets free agent receiver Brice Butler is visiting with the Arizona Cardinals. Butler also has meetings set with several teams – including the Bears – among others, as his free agency tour gets into gear. Butler didn’t want to return to the Dallas Cowboys unless he was given a starting role. In turn, the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns to play along side Dez Bryant. Butler caught 43 passes for 794 yards and six touchdowns in his three seasons with the Cowboys and probably didn’t garner too much serious consideration for a starter’s role. The Cardinals have a need at receiver after losing John Brown and Jaron Brown in free agency. I mean, someone other than Larry Fitzgerald has to catch the ball … right?