Something from former Bears GM Jerry Angelo on Tuesday regarding quarterback Jay Cutler is difficult to figure out. Briefly put, Angelo concludes that the quarterback that he traded to acquire in 2009 and almost immediately gave a contract extension to, isn’t really that good after all despite coming off the best season of his career.
Phil Emery was hired to replace Angelo as Bears general manager in 2012. Angelo, with his roots in pro personnel, built his best teams through free agency; Emery was brought in specifically because of his foundation in college scouting, the bedrock of building teams through the draft.
Their backgrounds are not the only significant difference between them. There’s also the matter of how they regard Cutler.
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Emery presented Cutler with the biggest single contract in franchise history, emblematic of Emery’s belief that Cutler is the franchise quarterback the franchise has lacked for decades.
Angelo liked Cutler enough to mortgage the future in the form of two No. 1 draft choices in a 2009 trade for the then-Denver quarterback. Just five games into Cutler’s first Chicago season, Angelo thought enough of Cutler to give him a contract extension.
Dealing with groin and ankle injuries that cost him five games and major portions of two others, Cutler still put up the highest passer rating (89.2) of his eight NFL seasons. He earned the respect of teammates and a new coaching staff.
Yet Angelo found more wrong than right with Cutler:
“Has all the physical tools, but inconsistent in the clutch. Mostly due to a lack of poise. He’s not comfortable reading defenses and consequently locks onto a favorite or pre-determined target, that may or may not be the right choice. The less he’s asked to see the better he is. A better half field general, than a full field one.”
The chief reason why Lovie Smith was fired as head coach was his failure to solve issues with the offense, which led to his inability to get more than one of his teams to the playoffs in the final six years of his regime.
A major reason why Angelo was excused from his job the year before Smith’s exit was specifically his failure to solve the quarterback position, whether through Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, Brian Griese, Kordell Stewart, Chad Hutchinson, Caleb Hanie, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn, Chris Chandler or Jeff Blake.
Jerry’s critique is odd. It has the ring of what might have been said of Cutler from 2009-2012. And his general description of the echelon in which Cutler is place includes “had a subpar year” and “may be a descending player.”
I don’t have a rooting interest one way or the other with respect to Cutler; I shouldn’t. But in this case, the criticism isn’t so much unfair as just…odd.