The Denver Broncos pulled off and amazing magic act yesterday by making the Bears look at Cutler's gifts in the right hand, and holding out the truth in the left. Too often we forget to look at the system the players are put in, especially QB's. The quarterback position is held in a much higher regard than any other position on the field, partly because their often the face on the franchise, and they are so valuable. But we must always look at what they have around them to work with.
Was Kurt Warner as bad as he was in NY, when he had a beat up line and aging receivers? Or was he as good as he was with the greatest show on turf? It also seems the back-up QBs run through had some sort of success when put into that system in St. Louis, when it was at running full speed. How was it that a good QB in Randall Cunningham, became a great QB over night when given Randy Moss and Chris Carter? And with Randy Moss, Tom Brady was able to set the TD records he was never thought to be in contention with. It seems all the greats had their great WRs; Montana and Rice, Aikman and Irving, Manning and Harrison, Roethlisberger and Ward, Marino and ... well not all great abs. But then again Marino never got a ring. So there seems to be something to this. Was Eli Manning finally maturing or was it Burress' arrival that put him in the elite level? After all it’s only a completion if there’s some one there to catch the ball.
It also seems that great quarterbacks can not play from their backs. Eli, Peyton, Brady (or Cassel), Brees and Warner all had top WRs to help them but also they didn't spend much time on the ground. Surprise, surprise a QB needs time to find an open receiver and throw the ball. Just think back to the unbelievable season journeyman Rich Gannon had taking the Raiders to the Super bowl. It wasn't a coincidence that he had a break out year so late in his career when he got placed on a team with not only Rice, and Brown, but also with a offensive line that gave him more than enough time for those aging future Hall of Famers to get open. Now think how he faired when on key player, center Pro Bowler Barrett Robbins, was absent from the Super bowl? So it also takes a very good line play to make a great quarterback.
So what made Cutler so great? He certainly didn't have any great WR's? He however did have a very good and deep crop to throw to. He also had a very good offensive line in front of him. Now one knock against this theory has been that he didn't a running game with an unthinkable amount of injuries occurring to their backfield this season. But Denver and Mike Shannahan had been able to place anyone in that backfield over the years and make them produce at a high level. And after those players left Denver it showed it was more the system and not the back. So with all that around him yes Cutler did make the Pro Bowl, but Chicago does not look as inviting. There is no help for a QB in the windy city, where at a mile high in the sky can be quite comfortable for some one to take a few snaps. So I would look for a capable Kyle Orton to have a break out year, when the game will just slow down around him in Denver. On the other hand a strong armed Cutler may be able to cut through the winds of Chicago, but there will be no one there to pull down those passes but defenders. That is if he can stay upright long enough to release the ball. So look for this once rising star to fade as his sacks and interceptions will both increase this season. While Orton the conservative Orton may be the steal of the trade accompanied by some prize first round pieces thanks to the Bears pulling the trigger a little to fast on this one.