Five Potential Jay Cutler Replacements in 2014 for the Chicago Bears

Oct 20, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is helped off the field after suffering an apparent injury against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Word has begun to surface of late that Marc Trestman was one of the guys who urged GM Phil Emery for the Chicago Bears to cease contract talks with Jay Cutler.  Could this mean the team had long-term plans to replace him?

Marc Trestman looking for leader who is efficient and mobile

To understand why Chicago by part from Cutler means to understand the head coach.  Everyone by now has heard the Marc Trestman story about his long tenure as an NFL coordinator before falling out of favor, re-emerging in the Canadian League and finding his way to the Bears after a long, successful run there.  A running myth about football is that the best quarterbacks have to have a strong arm like a John Elway, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco.  History shows that isn’t exactly true.  Joe Montana won four Super Bowls and even he admitted his arm strength wasn’t anywhere near the best of his time.  Jim Plunkett won two titles for the Raiders but was constantly threatened with removal because owner Al Davis hated his arm strength.  The key similarities between those two, and to the quarterbacks who thrived best under Trestman is efficiency, mobility and leadership.  Cutler can run and his teammates swear by his leadership but despite a solid start to 2013 he continues to show his efficiency lacks badly when under pressure.

So what is an efficient quarterback?  While there may be arguments as to how to tell, the basic idea comes down to two statistical categories:  completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio.  To no great surprise, Peyton Manning rates as the most efficient.  He ranks second in completion percentage at 71% and has a TD-to-INT ratio of 25-to-3.  That basically says Manning puts the ball in the right place at the right time.  Trestman wants that from his quarterback, whether he’s got a big arm or not.  So if Cutler is not the answer, who might fit the billing in the 2014 NFL draft?

Bryce Petty – Baylor

He’s not the most talked about quarterback in the NCAA, which is shocking since Baylor is undefeated but quarterback Bryce Petty has delivered not just a prolific but a near mistake-free season so far for the Bears.  He’s completed 70.3% of his passes, keeping in mind he averages for 13 yards per pass.  On top of that he has 18 touchdowns to four interceptions.  Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN hasn’t overlooked the junior, claiming he has all the tools a pro quarterback needs INCLUDING the arm.  At 6’3″ there is no problem with height or size at 230 lbs.  He seems like the ideal Trestman option.

Sean Mannion – Oregon State

Or is he?  Petty has done well but there is no hotter quarterback in college football than OregonState surprise star Sean Mannion.  After fighting for his job to start the season, he has gone on a tear for a league-leading 2992 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes.  Where it will interest the Bears is he completes 68% of his passes and has just four interceptions.  Naturally scouts want to see him against better competition but there is no question he has the production and body to excel in the NFL.

Zach Mettenberger – LSU

A classic pocket passer, Zach Mettenberger is a big harder of a sell for Chicago.  Nobody questions his size or his arm but his lack of mobility is the first red flag for Trestman.  That being said up until recently he was the hot topic of draft experts for guiding LSU with his efficient handling of their offense.  Before two weeks ago he’d completed over 69% of his passes and had 14 touchdown passes to two interceptions.  That has since taken a hit against Florida and Ole Miss.  His numbers are still good enough for 6th most efficient in the college ranks, but his drawbacks have begun to appear.

A.J. McCarron – Alabama

Arguably the most overlooked reason the Alabama Crimson Tide are so dominant.  A.J. McCarron doesn’t get much publicity because his team isn’t built to win with a quarterback.  That truth belies the reality.  Considering the competition he faces, McCarron is probably the most efficient passer in college.  His regular numbers don’t pop out but he has completed over 69% of his passes, thrown 14 touchdowns to three interceptions and is a clear leader on the field, executing the offense as it needs to be.  On top of that he’s more elusive than people realize and very accurate on short to intermediate throws.  His one issue is lacking arm strength.

Derek Carr – Fresno State

One of the bigger sleepers of the 2014 class.  The brother of former first overall pick David, Derek Carr has become a demigod at FresnoState.  Despite putting up 316 passes already on the season, he’s completed 69.6% of them for 23 touchdowns to six interceptions.  There are still parts of his game that aren’t refined and he’s not up to snuff on high quality competition but the skill set is there and he’s learned how to put the football where it needs to go.  On top of that he has a lot of physical talent like his brother which could be harnessed in the proper hands.

The bottom line is Jay Cutler didn’t always have the greatest stability with the Chicago Bears but it’s hard to ignore trends.  He wasn’t a very efficient passer even back during his Denver Broncos years.  Not to mention the guy just has hard luck when it comes to freak injuries.  Marc Trestman needs a quarterback who can protect the football, protect his teammates and most importantly protect himself.  The 2014 NFL draft should offer a chance to find that player.

Topics: Bryce Petty, Chicago Bears, Jay Cutler, Sean Mannion, Zach Mettenberger

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