According to NFL analyst and former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick, Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler is the new Jeff George.
George is the former No. 1 overall draft pick who played for seven teams in his 14 NFL seasons. He had the strongest arm I’ve ever seen, but was severely lacking in the areas of leadership – hence the seven teams – and often, intelligence. If you’ve ever seen Brett Favre try to force a ball into triple coverage and wonder what the hell he was doing, well, it didn’t matter how many guys were covering one of George’s receivers. The guy had a cannon. He figured he could fit the ball in pretty much any window, even it wasn’t there.
George was also notoriously selfish. His tenure in Atlanta ended when he got into an argument on the sidelines with coach June Jones. Shortly thereafter, we was suspended and released. His overall record as a starting quarterback is 46-78.
So, here you have Jay Cutler in Chicago – cannon arm, leading the league in interceptions, not showing any leadership qualities, 5-8 record as a starter. Hell, Cutler is even from George’s home state of Indiana.
“I was a huge Jay Cutler fan, and I’m not ready to bail on him yet. But I’m going to make an analogy here that’s going to scare a lot of people. He’s beginning to feel Jeff Georgish,” Billick said. “Tremendous talent. The two interceptions, two touchdowns in the game [Sunday]. The interceptions, you just scratch your head and say, ‘Where exactly were you going with this ball?’ And then the two touchdown throws … there is probably not four guys in this league that could make the kind of throws that he made to get those two touchdowns. So it’s a head-scratcher. Obviously huge, huge potential. But right now, it’s only potential I think.”
It’s hard to disagree with the analysis, but I think something is missing.
Cutler, like George, is probably never going to be a leader of men. George always seemed more about padding the stats than winning games, and while I wouldn’t say Cutler doesn’t want to win, he’s never demonstrated any leadership characteristics.
Still, I wouldn’t say either of these guys were/are bad quarterbacks, but they’re both guys who need to be put in a position to succeed.
George’s most successful years came in Atlanta and Minnesota. In the full seasons he was with those teams, he was 7-9 (Atlanta, 1994), 9-7 (Atlanta, 1995) and 8-2 (Minnesota, 1999) as a starter. In those years, George’s stat lines looked like this.
1994: 3,734 yards, 23 TDs, 18 Ints
1995: 4,143 yards, 24 TDs, 11 Ints
1999: 2,816 yards, 23 TDs, 12 Ints (12 games)
Cutler’s best seasons were the last two in Denver, when he was 7-9 (2007) and 8-8 (2008). His stats looked like this.
2007: 3,497 yards, 20 TDs, 14 Ints
2008: 4,526 yards, 25 TDs, 18 Ints
Those are all pretty nice lines and there’s definitely a resemblance, but what I’m really getting at here, is the team’s minimal successes didn’t necessarily occur because of these quarterbacks. They were a part of it, no doubt, but they also had some great weapons around them.
In Atlanta, in ’94 and ’95, Craig Heyward had the two biggest rushing seasons of his career (779 and 1,083 yards, respectively). In ’94, Andre Rison had his last big season before leaving Atlanta (1,088 yards, 8 TDs) and Terence Mathis had a career year (1,342 yards, 11 TDs). In ’95, Atlanta had three receivers go over 1,000 yards (Mathis, Eric Metcalf and Bert Emmanuel). George’s Vikings had Robert Smith (1,015 yards), Cris Carter (1,241 yards, 13 TDs) and Randy Moss (1,413 yards, 11 TDs). Two of those guys are hall of famers.
Cutler’s Broncos teams featured Brandon Marshall, who had more than 100 catches both years, and tight end Tony Scheffler, who recorded more than 600 yards both years, in addition to a complementary group of players that included Travis Henry, Brandon Stokely and Eddie Royal in one year or the other.
Both George and Cutler have talent, and comparing the two isn’t off base, but both players need talent around them to perform well.
That’s something Cutler doesn’t have in Chicago. If the Bears can remedy that situation, the rest of the NFC North might be in trouble.