However, we learned once again that football is a team sport and one player can't turn around a franchise by himself, as Cutler didn't get any support from his ground attack, wasn't given very much time to throw by his offensive line and never got the defensive support he was promised. So instead of being voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl and leading the Bears back to the postseason after a two-year absence, Cutler instead led the league in interceptions and delivered two fewer wins than the departed Kyle Orton did the previous campaign – and, of course, Chicago missed the playoffs for the third year in a row. The former Vanderbilt Commodore was every bit as good as advertised in terms of talent, but his decision-making on the field was questionable and his attitude off the field was frosty.
While Angelo's decision to reward him with a $30 million contract extension after just five games was a bit premature, Cutler closed the schedule hot as a firecracker and threw eight touchdown passes in his last two games.
Inside the Numbers
The irony is that Cutler was supposed to be more of a winner in Chicago than he was in Denver because he would finally be given a consistent running game and a dominant defense to help him out, yet the Bears finished 29th in the league in rushing and 17th in the league in total defense – the Broncos were 17th and seventh, respectively, by the way. But if the Midway Monsters can block better next year, and Chris Williams moving from right to left tackle late in the schedule seemed to help, Cutler has shown he can move the ball consistently and score plenty of points without a true No. 1 receiver on the roster. Probably for the first time since he was hired in 2001, Angelo can ignore the quarterback position in the draft.
Even though he was arguably the most heavily scrutinized player in football in 2009, much like Rex Grossman was in '06, Bears fans can take comfort in buying that No. 6 jersey because Cutler is going to be around a while.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.