Sports Nest: Quelling Cutler expectations

August 26, 2009

By Matt Nestor

Sports Columnist

Jay Cutler, the new Chicago Bears quarterback, performed much better in his second start in the preseason. He was accurate, produced yards and points, and all in all was much better than his first game.

This improvement should continue the more time Cutler gets to spend with his new teammates in his new offense. What that means for the Bears’ season is anyone’s guess.

For this year, the Bears are certainly not a favorite in the division. And for most people, they are the third-best team.

I say they can be a dangerous sleeper if Cutler and the receivers get on the same page. And Cutler may even make these no-name receivers better.

But before everyone gets too excited for what will no doubt be an exciting season for Chicago, everyone should step back. If the Bears finish third this season, as many expect, neither the season nor the Cutler trade will be a disappointment.

The trade meant one thing: the Bears were able to get a young, proven franchise quarterback. And that alone puts you in the top half of the league every year.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger. These are the top quarterbacks, along with a few others. And their teams are right in the thick of things every single season. You can also look at how long Brett Favre kept the Packers relevant, even with lesser talent after their Super Bowl years.

The acquisition of Cutler means two things for the future of the franchise. First, it means the Bears will be playoff contenders almost annually for the next 10 years. Second, it also means the Bears have a better-than-average shot of reaching another Super Bowl or two in that time.

Having a franchise quarterback does not guarantee a Super Bowl. All you have to do is look at Dan Marino for that. But the Bears have a jump-start on that.

Another thing about having someone like Cutler around is that players want to play with franchise quarterbacks. The receivers, which could very well be a problem this year, will undoubtedly improve the longer Cutler is in Chicago.

Look at Terrell Owens, who joined McNabb in Philly. Randy Moss went out of his way to go to New England. Other players, and especially receivers, will want to play with him. And when these players are free agents, they will look to Chicago.

It will also help the defense and extend the productive part of the career for many of the defensive players. The past few seasons, the defense has spent a lot of time on the field.

This season, while the Bears’ offense may not exactly be the 2007 Patriots, three-and-outs should be few. And a few first downs will keep a defense much fresher.

At the end of the day, the Bears may be a little old on defense and a little short at receiver to be a serious threat this season. But it will be exciting regardless. But please wait five or 10 years before you judge the trade.

Share your thoughts with Matt Nestor via e-mail at sportsnest@gmail.com.

from the Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009 issue

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