There’s an idea floating amongst the NFL Punditocracy that Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler could be this generation’s answer to Jeff George. It’s an interesting comparison, as Jeff George was signed by the Bears in 2004; but never took the field. He’s also a local Midwest guy- drafted #1 overall by his hometown Indianapolis Colts in 1990 out of Illinois.
Jeff George had a distinguished college football career with the Illini; transferring to Champaign from Purdue, and that’s something you never see today, transfers within the same conference. It’s also fortuitous, as Jeff George signed with 7 different teams during his 13 year career.
He just never completely gelled with coaches, coordinators, teammates etc. Jeff George couldn’t find the right fit; anywhere. With Jay Cutler, he’s only changed teams once, but he certainly has had plenty of different coordinators. The two are alike in a few other ways too.
Both are known for having all the physical gifts: a huge arm, mobility, the right amount of touch on their passes. Jeff George even rivaled Dan Marino in his prime when it came to releasing the ball quickly. However, both Cutler and George aren’t considered ideal leaders. Or convey the ideal leadership traits you want in a NFL quarterback.
Boomer Esiason, who this week said Cutler is a maybe, possibly a top 15 QB, and described the Bears as a second rung NFC team. Norman Julius Esiason said this morning on CBS NFL Today:
“Quarterbacks crave consistency, that has not been the case with Jay Cutler, he reminds me of this generation’s Jeff George. That’s who he is- a great arm, a great player, but for some reason, just can’t seem to find his way.”
George had his best season in Oakland in 1997; when he threw for 29 TDs and 9 INTs. Then in ’98 he blew off his Offensive Coordinator and called his own plays all season. As you can imagine, this act of defiance didn’t sit well. He was replaced by eventual 1998 NFL MVP Rich Gannon. And the QB Coach in Oakland? Cutler’s current Head Coach Marc Trestman.
And the next person commentating on CBS? Rich Gannon; who offered this:
“There’s no question about Jay Cutler’s toughness and talent. But he has this legacy, and as Boomer points out, it’s more like Jeff George than it is a Super Bowl winning quarterback. And I think he has to go out and earn the respect of his teammates and really buy in.”
And after Gannon was done, Boomer said this:
“I took an informal poll here with our colleagues and everyone else, I came up with 20 other quarterbacks that guys would rather select than Jay Cutler right now, and I think a lot of that is do to the perception that he’s not a great leader.”
Cutler finished 21-33-242-1-2 today in the win over the Bengals. Jay got off to a decent start today, and made progress toward changing his legacy. Perhaps 2013 is the year he turns it around? Jeff George finished his career with a 46-78 record; 151 TDs vs 133 INTs, and one playoff win (1999, while with the Minnesota Vikings)
Jay Cutler, drafted 11th overall by Denver, currently also has one playoff win. His record as a starter is 52-42, 138-101 TD-INT. Is he the next Jeff George? We can probably give him a little more credit than that.
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