Quo Vadis Christian Cutler
Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune summarizes the Vikings revolving door at quarterback:
“[Christian] Ponder entered his third season as the undisputed starter, then struggled during an 0-3 start with more turnovers (seven) than TD passes (two) and a completion percentage of .590. Two days after a 31-27 home loss to the Browns in Week 3, the Vikings announced Ponder had a fractured rib and inserted [Matt] Cassel, a 31-year-old veteran, as their starter for a Week 4 game against the Steelers in London.
“Cassel threw for 248 yards with two TD passes in a 34-27 win across the pond and retained the starting spot after the bye week. But the Vikings also complicated matters by signing [Josh] Freeman off the scrap heap on the Sunday of Week 5, just a few days after his unceremonious exit from Tampa Bay. So after Cassel struggled in a 35-10 home loss to Carolina, Freeman got the nod to start the following week against the Giants.
“Then, he delivered one of the more abysmal quarterbacking performances in recent memory, misfiring on 33 of 53 passes against the Giants, failing to lead a single scoring drive and throwing a costly red zone pick in an embarrassing 23-7 loss to a previously winless opponent. Two days after that debacle, the Vikings announced Freeman had concussion-like symptoms and spun the wheel back to Ponder, who has had uneven results in the five games since. He’s 1-3-1 in those starts and didn’t finish a Week 10 win over the Redskins (shoulder injury) or a Week 11 loss in Seattle (benched).”
“Overall, Ponder is 13-20-1 as a starter during his career and just hasn’t been able to clear the inconsistency hurdle.
“Perhaps worst of all: he shows flashes of promise – leaving him in NFL quarterbacking purgatory. He’ll likely never be good enough to be a major difference-maker’s but has been just good enough in spurts to tease at a potential breakthrough.”
This last paragraph struck a cord with me because it's so consistent with what I see in Jay Cutler. Though most seem to think that Cutler will be resigned for at least one more year in the offseason, I'm not so sure about whether he is the long-term answer here even after most of a year as the starter under offensive head coach Marc Trestman.
All agree that Cutler has talent. The real question is how much success a “see it, throw it” quarterback who is incapable of throwing with anticipation can have in the NFL. Of the top quarterbacks in the league, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rogers, none do it this way.
There are times when I think its possible. Then the Bears play a team that comes out in tight man coverage where the windows of opportunity are extremely narrow, Cutler looks awful and I think, “They've got to go in a different direction.”
It doesn't help Cutler's case that back up Josh McCown has looked so good hitting wide recievers quickly, in stride, thowing the ball before they come open. It shows you the possibilities that are there if Cutler could just learn to do it.
Most think there's no compairison between Cutler and Ponder, two totally different quarterbacks. But I feel the same way about both. There are flashes where I think they're the answer. And there are games when I'm sure they aren't.
Can the Bears see football heaven under Cutler? Who the hell knows.