Beginning our extended wall to wall coverage of the Jay Cutler trade and getting expert opinion and analysis on the trade and it’s impact. We’ll gather opinions from around the league and multiple media sources and compile them all into this blog.
The first bit of information we get is from one of the most respected analysts in the league and on TV. Former New York Giants and CBS analyst Phil Simms. If anyone is going to give a fair assessment it will be Simms because he’s covered AFC games for CBS for quite a number of years now. Simms has seen Cutler first hand and dealt with the Broncos and Mike Shannahan .
Simms felt after seeing Cutler at Vanderbilt that he was the best player available in the draft. He still wonders to this day why people even argue this point between Leinart, Young and Cutler, because Cutler clearly had all the tools. Cutler has proven himself behind two QBs who came from two bigger programs and had a ton more respect coming out of college. Not coincidentally though the NFL always has a way of evening things out.
Simms brought up what has been talked about regarding Cutler’s nimbleness in the pocket, his athletic ability to extend the play and then how great he is at throwing on the run. This is one of Cutler’s advantages is that with his arm strength he can still make throws while on the run, he doesn’t need to reset his feet and then throw he can just flick his wrist to a receiver who make deek a CB who has his eyes on Cutler and then get open. This will be specifically beneficial to Devin Hester who will be able to use his speed and elusiveness to get open down the field if Cutler is flushed from the pocket.
Simms talked about how Cutler led a great offense with an awful defense and helped his team be successful. The offense the Broncos had was second in the league and none of that was a result of pure passing. Cutler’s passing helped by the running game was still averaging 4.5 yards a rush. When the Broncos’ defense gave up less than 21 points per game Cutler was 13-1 as the starter, and the Bears defense for all it’s shortcomings gave up less than 21 points eight times last season, translating to what would be eight wins for the Bears. From there that would translate to eight likely victories with Cutler possible pushing the Bears over the top in two to four more games, giving the Bears at least a Wild Card berth.
While Simms has not seen a lot of the Bears’ games (covering the AFC) the game he has seen he felt that the offense usually played well enough to win, but that it was the defense that struggled. Most Bears fans would agree with that assessment about the defense which struggled while on the field in pre-season too.
Simms went on to talk about whether or not his attitude would effect things coming into the Chicago Bears. All the drama coming from Denver to Chicago and the two week long soap opera, and Simms was just as adamant about Cutler’s make up as he was his talent. Simms stated that he was still on the Cutler band wagon and that this was a great trade for the Bears. He didn’t understand why anyone would give up a franchise QB. You draft a guy like Mathew Stafford, in hopes that he BECOMES Jay Cutler. Well with Cutler you already have a proven product, and talent. That proven commodity that you hope you get when you draft. Plus you look at the hit and miss parts of first round draft picks and it really opens your eyes.
Simms brought up his conversations with Mike Shannahan and Shannahan never had anything bad to say about his QB. He never had a private conversation that said something like “well yeah he’s a great talent, great arm, good production, but he’s not a leader or a team guy. None of the coaches in Denver, none of the players ever had anything bad to say about Cutler. He was the type of professional you want your QB to be, a leader who doesn’t flinch in the face of pressure.
Simms then went on to speak of his experience of playing under Bill Parcell’s who said essentially you don’t have to be liked by everyone on the team. You don’t have to get along with everyone, your job is not to be the popular guy on the team and even if you try hard not everyone is going to like you. Your job is to be a leader of men and a leader on the field and Simms feels that Cutler has that.
Beyond the overall trade Simms spoke about the new dimension to the Bears offense Cutler brings. The play calling will change, the play design will change the receivers’ production will improve. Different scenarios will be handled better, and there will be a more open play book for the Bears to run. If the defense gets back to being extraordinary the Bears could go far into the playoffs. He already feels they are a playoff team (they were one game away from the playoffs last year).
Simms was also excited about Jerry Angelo and his statement that “if we were going to get into the Jay Cutler trade talks, we were in it to win it.” Angelo became adamant about getting a deal done and not letting this one pass him by. It’s one of the most unique situations in the history of the league when you have a franchise QB entering the prime of his career likely to be a multi-year Pro Bowl selection. Cutler is a proven QB and Simms felt that it’s going to work out great for the Bears and he didn’t really speak to any negatives coming in this deal.
It’s truly hard to argue with Simms’ assessment and I for one have a lot of respect for Simms as an analyst who does his homework knows his stuff and doesn’t run his mouth for the sake of having an opinion. The most important aspect is there is no guarantee the Bears were going to be able to get a great player from their next two draft picks.
You can find successful players in free agency and in the second to fifth rounds of the draft. Angelo has done this time and time again and has built a successful team around it. Plus with 2010 likely to be a non salary cap year the Bears could really be in a position to add to their franchise and solidify it for the next decade. We can sit here and look back at the first month of free agency (it was exactly a month of free agency before the trade happened) and be critical about Omiyale, Bullocks and Shaffer. But the bottom line is Jerry Angelo just made a move that instantly improves the Chicago Bears. He made a bold move that may go down as the most impressive trade in the history of the league.
Tags: 2009 NFL, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bears Draft, Chicago Bears free agency, Chicago Sports, Denver Broncos, Devin Hester, football, Frank Omiyale, Jay Cutler, Jerry Angelo, Kyle Orton, Monsters of the Midway, NFL, NFL Draft, NFL free agency, Phil Simms, Ron Turner, Sports, wide receivers