To the surprise of more than a few, NFL.com writer Dan Hanzus listed Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler as an MVP dark horse. Is it possible? Here are five things that must happen for it to take place.
Start all 16 games and make the NFL playoffs
The mark of an MVP is a player that is always there when his team needs him and plays well enough to get them to the NFL playoffs. For Jay Cutler that means doing two things he hasn’t done in awhile, which is play all 16 games in the regular season and play well enough to make the post-season. The former is an objective both he and head coach Marc Trestman have targeted since the off-season started and are convinced is the key to accomplished the latter.
Top 4,600 yards passing and 35 touchdowns
To win Most Valuable Player in this day and age, it is going to take stats. Peyton Manning won it last year with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes. Nobody is saying Cutler has to do that for the Chicago Bears, but it’s clear if he wants any hope of even sniffing the award, he’ll need a career year. That means at least 4,600 pass yards and most likely 35 or more touchdown passes. On top of that is the efficiency, meaning less interception. Most likely it will take 13 or fewer.
Don’t ride Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall
Another part that will be critical for Cutler to get voters on his side is to show that he can run an offense. What that means is learning not to lean heavily on his best weapons, most notably wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. It would be easy to do so given how excellent both players are, but if Jay wants to prove his worth as an individual he must spread the ball around, getting other players involved. It shows his mastery of the system, his ability to lead and confuses defenses. When he won the award in 2011, Aaron Rodgers completed at least 10 passes to 10 different receivers for the Green Bay Packers.
Stay out of trouble on camera
National and local pundits have said the Chicago Bears quarterback has matured a great deal since his early days with the team. People still remember his nonchalant attitude, pouty expressions and occasional blowups with teammates or coaches on camera. It led to a lot of scrutiny for Cutler and has remained a primary reason why he often gets overlooked. Not all of it is his fault, but a good portion of it is. Now he’s a father. He’s 31-years old and has a brand new seven-year contract that will secure him financially. If Jay wants to get people on his side, it must start with staying humble in interviews and staying out of trouble when cameras find him on the field.
Find a way to get a “signature” win against a good opponent
The last and probably hardest accomplishment Jay Cutler must fulfill in order to win MVP is carrying his team to a crucial victory against a good team during the season. Experts often call it a “signature” win. There will be plenty of opportunities in 2014. Beating the powerhouse San Francisco 49ers in their new home stadium. Taking down Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough. Finally ousting the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. There is no shortage of chances. If Jay can get the Bears out of one of those games on his own personal will, voters are bound to take notice.