One of the biggest question marks the last few seasons has been quarterback Jay Cutler. But in 2015, Cutler had one of the better seasons of his career under new offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
The 32-year-old quarterback had an touchdown to interception ratio of 1.9, falling short of the 2 ratio that he’s never accomplished in his career.Cutler looked different this season and that’s in large part due to Gase.
Gase made the game more manageable for Cutler despite the quarterback having a strong arm and taking deep shots in the past. That’s okay however as Cutler fit in well with Gase’s system to get into manageable downs, hit the high percentage throws and not turn the ball over. Cutler did all three of those things and it produced a different quarterback Chicago hasn’t seen since he arrived in 2009.
Yes, the Bears missed out on the playoffs and struggled at times on offense but Cutler was far from the problem. The Bears were bugged by injuries to the receiving core leaving Cutler throwing to guys like Marc Mariani, Joshua Bellamy and Cameron Meredith at times this season. Still, Cutler was able to put up solid numbers and give some hope to the future of the offense.
Let’s evaluate Cutler’s play this season.
Cutler’s 2015 stats
311-of-483, 64.4%, 3,659 yards, 21 TD’s and 11 INT’s
Cutler took the game plan laid out by Gase and head coach John Fox every week and executed it to the best of his abilities. While the game plan didn’t usually call for deep threats down the field, Cutler was manageable in finding receivers underneath.
Part of this included limiting the turnovers. Cutler was a turnover machine in 2014 throwing 18 interceptions and fumbling 12 times, losing six of those. This season, Cutler still turned the ball over but he limited his mistakes to just 11 interceptions and five fumbles lost. Three of those interceptions came in the final week.
One of the most underrated parts of Cutler’s game is his mobility. Cutler showed off his ability to escape the pocket and keep plays going with his feet.
We touched on Cutler turning the ball over less in the strengths part, but we are going to go right back to it. While Cutler did turn the ball over less, he still made those crucial mistakes. During the week one loss to the Packers, Cutler had a crucial turnover late in the game that ended the Bears drive. The turnovers are down but when they happen, they still happen at critical times.
Those critical times include the red zone where he has struggled for most of his career. That didn’t change in 2015 as he still made those frustrating red zone mistakes. The Bears as a team continued to have red zone struggles this season, so it’s not just a knock on Cutler.
While it really isn’t a direct reflection on his play, the loss of Gase will likely hurt Cutler in the future. Despite Dowell Loggains being close to Cutler, it won’t be easy for the Bears to install a similar gameplan and to have the success they saw this season. Now this doesn’t mean Cutler will be a lost cause in 2016, but there could be some bumps in the road.
Bears promoted QB coach Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator, team announced. QB Jay Cutler has endorsed Loggains.
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) January 11, 2016
Last year I gave Cutler an F for his season grade in large part due to his turnovers and his erratic play throughout the year. This season I saw an improved Cutler and a quarterback the Bears could compete with. Cutler isn’t the Bears quarterback of the future, but he’s good enough to win them games for a few more years.
Cutler earns a passing grade this season after an improved year.