A look at Jay Cutler’s first 8 seasons — and the finishes
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter July 20, 2014 7:26PM
OFFENSIVE LINE (A) The Bears only had 49 offensive plays, but the line did its part, with Eben Britton replacing an injured Jordan Mills in the first quarter. Cutler was sacked once. The Bears ran for 121 yards, passed for 226 and averaged seven yards per
Updated: July 20, 2014 10:40PM
ARE ALL THE PIECES FINALLY IN PLACE?
In the ninth season of Jay Cutler’s heretofore up-and-down career, the stars seem aligned for him to have the ‘‘breakout’’ many have been predicting for years. In his first eight seasons, Cutler never has had a passer rating higher than 89.2 and has started only two playoff games, finishing one.
A look at Cutler’s first eight seasons and the circumstances behind eight disappointing finishes:
2006 Broncos (9-7) 88.5 rating, 9 TDs, 5 INTs
• Needing a victory in Week 17 to make the playoffs, the Broncos lost to the 49ers 26-23 in overtime. Cutler, a rookie making his fifth start, was injured after a sack, returned to throw a pick-six, then threw the tying touchdown pass with 1:30 left. The Broncos stalled on two overtime possessions.
2007 Broncos (7-9) 88.1 rating, 20 TDs, 14 INTs
• The Broncos were 5-5 before losing four of their next five games, starting with a 37-34 loss to the Bears. Cutler threw for 302 yards in that game, but the Broncos allowed two kick-return touchdowns to Devin Hester. The Broncos’ defense allowed the fifth-most points in the NFL (26.5 per game) that season.
2008 Broncos (8-8) 86.0 rating, 25 TDs, 18 INTs
• Needing one victory in their final three games to clinch a playoff spot, the Broncos lost all three, including a 30-23 home loss to the Bills in which they wasted a 13-0 lead. Cutler had ratings of 74.3, 72.4 and 74.9 in the final three games, but the Broncos allowed 30, 30 and 52 points.
2009 Bears (7-9) 76.8 rating, 27 TDs, 26 INTs
• Brian Urlacher’s season-ending wrist injury in the opener took some of the bite out of the Bears’ defense, which finished tied for 21st in points allowed. After a 3-1 start, Cutler threw 20 interceptions and was sacked 23 times in a 10-game stretch in which the Bears went 2-8 to fall out of contention.
2010 Bears (11-5) 86.3 rating, 23 TDs, 16 INTs
• With a chance to knock the Packers out of the playoffs, Cutler struggled (43.5 rating) in a 10-3 loss in Week 17 at Lambeau Field. He was great (111.3 rating) against the Seahawks in the playoffs but suffered a knee injury after a poor start (31.8 rating) against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
2011 Bears (8-8) 85.7 rating, 13 TDs, 7 INTs
• Cutler was on a roll and the Bears were heading to 7-3 with their fifth consecutive victory when Cutler suffered a season-ending broken thumb while chasing the Chargers’ Antoine Cason, who had intercepted a pass after Johnny Knox fell down. The Bears lost their next five games and were eliminated from playoff contention.
2012 Bears (10-6) 81.3 rating, 19 TDs, 14 INTs
• The Bears were 7-1 after beating mostly losing teams when Cutler, who was sacked 28 times in the first eight games, was injured after struggling early (16.7 rating) in a loss to the 7-1 Texans. Cutler missed a 32-7 loss to the 49ers and also was injured against the Vikings as the Bears lost five times in a six-game stretch to doom their playoff hopes.
2013 Bears (8-8) 89.2 rating, 19 TDs, 12 INTs
• Cutler was eighth in the NFL in passer rating (95.2) when he was injured after a poor start (8.3
rating) against the Redskins. He also was injured against the Lions and missed five starts. But his best season ultimately was doomed by a 30th-ranked defense, right down to a fourth-quarter misplay in a 33-28 loss to the Packers in Week 17.