Are There Troubles With Cutler Contract Talks? And Other Bullets

PhilEmeryConfused

If you didn’t get to see the Detroit-Philadelphia game yesterday, I apologize; it was an entertaining affair, despite numerous sloppy mistakes by the Lions. (In fact, that made it all the more entertaining for me!) I had some thoughts last night on that game, as well as what it means for the NFC North race. You can find that post here. (I actually didn’t spend too long on that title, either. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with a pun. If the New York Post gives me a call today, I wouldn’t be surprised.)

I’ll have a Monday Night Football preview post up this afternoon, with some things to look for in tonight’s crucial game. And now, your bullets:

  • Considering the Chicago media pendulum has seemingly swung toward the side of “Bears will keep Cutler going forward” it was a surprise to see this tweet yesterday from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport: “Name to watch for #Titans future QB: Jay Cutler. Sources: He’s on the radar & believed to be interested in being back in Tenn. if out in CHI” This struck me as odd timing, but not unbelievable. In fact, I’m sure it’s quite likely that if the Bears were to part way with Cutler, he’d explore the potential of playing for the Titans. He played college football at Vanderbilt, and he lives there in the offseason. (Ah, the “sports figure has ties to an area” storyline; those always work out, which is why Joe Girardi is managing the Cubs right now. Oh, wait.) Taken alone, I assumed it was a case of Rapoport talking to a Titans source about their QB plans, hearing that they might be interested in Cutler if he was available, and then checking with other sources as to the likelihood of Cutler wanting to play in Nashville, should things not work out in Chicago. That leads to the Tweet above, and if you were paying attention, you’ll realize that it’s missing a very important piece of information: the Bears control Jay Cutler. They may not want to franchise him with the intent of forcing him to play under a one-year contract; as Emery noted in a chat last week, that doesn’t make a lot of salary cap sense for quarterbacks. But applying the franchise tag to Cutler doesn’t necessarily mean that he will play under that one-year contract. The other benefit to the Bears in that case would be the extension of an exclusive negotiating window, all the way into July, within which the Bears and Cutler can try to hammer out a long-term deal. At that point, if they haven’t agreed on a long-term deal, Cutler will play under the one-year provision of the tag; a major risk for any player, to which Henry Melton can (sadly) attest. That leverage is why players hate the tag system. So if the Bears want Cutler back next season, he’ll be back next season, one way or another. And considering recent statements from Chicago reporters that have played up the idea that the Bears are looking to keep Cutler, this all seemed like false hustle.
  • Except I then learned, via this piece from CBS Chicago’s Adam Hoge, that Rapoport had expanded on his earlier tweet when he was on the NFL Network’s GameDay Morning. Apparently Rapoport said that though Cutler would like to re-sign in Chicago, “there’s some serious doubts from both sides about whether that can happen.” Hmm. That’s the first I’d seen anything like that reported, and Hoge himself noted in an accompanying tweet that he hadn’t heard anything like that. I’m still trying to figure out what to make of this, but Rapoport seems at odds with a lot of local guys who have been more been fairly firm lately in their predictions that Cutler would be back. National guys like Rapoport often can swoop in and get the story, but unless there was a massive sea change from both Cutler and the Bears very recently, I’m not sure where this is coming from. (And considering how staunch Emery seems to be in terms of waiting until after the season for contract talks, I doubt that sort of change happened recently.) It could be any number of things, including a leverage play from one side; I honestly don’t know. But my position still hasn’t changed; reading the tea leaves, I think the Bears will franchise him with an eye on a long-term contract. But it’s certainly a fluid situation.
  • The Tribune’s Brad Biggs wrote a piece espousing the numbers behind Josh McCown’s play, and he drew the conclusion that the offense has been better with McCown than with Cutler. This has been a popular narrative lately, and I’m all for statistical analysis, but I have a few issues with Brad’s methodology. He attempts to boil down the numbers to figure out how much the offense is scoring per-possession with McCown versus their performance under the same metric with Cutler. He removed defensive and special teams return points, and then subtracted points scored by opponents off of fumble or interception returns from each quarterback’s total. He came up with 2.06 points per-possession for McCown, versus 1.75 points per-possession from Cutler. If you’re still with me, you’re probably thinking “Hey, this doesn’t exactly sound like rock-solid statistical analysis.” You’d be very right. Ignoring the obviously small sample sizes at play, there is no effort made to adjust for the strength of the opposing defense, no effort made to adjust for starting field position, no attention paid to the fact that the offense was still cohering as a unit at the start of the season; basically no effort made to adjust for any of a number of variables that could factor in to how efficiently an offense scores points on any given drive, nor is there effort made to divine how crucial the quarterback play was to those scoring drives. By any rational metric, Cutler was playing very well, with the first Detroit game the only real blemish. Josh McCown has also played very well, but anyone who tries to spin this into some grander point that the Bears could plug any quarterback into Trestman’s system and get results comparable to Cutler’s ceiling is just not evaluating players properly. McCown has played some very good football for a backup; the best he’s played over his entire career. That is certainly a credit to him, and to Trestman, and to the Bears wealth of talent at the skill positions. But it’s essentially a 4.5 game sample size. Trying to tease out any sort of statistical meaning from such a small sample is pointless. Especially when you start with such flawed methodology.
  • Apparently Thom Brennaman said during his broadcast that he’ll be doing the next two Bears games for Fox. Don’t everyone cheer at once!
  • It was the second consecutive rough week for referee Jeff Triplette; following the debacle with the chain gang last Sunday, he failed to overturn a Bengals touchdown despite quite a bit of visual evidence contrary to the call on the field. (Edit: I had this backwards; the call on the field was somehow reversed TO a touchdown. That’s even worse for Jeff. Thanks to Twitter follower Frank Gerard for the heads-up.)
  • Mike Shanahan is likely coaching out the string in Washington. ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported early Sunday that Shanahan had been prepared to quit following last season’s playoff exit due to a growing rift between himself and the Dan Snyder/Robert Griffin III power couple. That report is fairly damning of Snyder (not exactly a sympathetic figure to begin with) and according to this Washington Post piece from later in the day, Snyder was not happy about it. Combine Dan Snyder’s anger, an embarrassing 45-10 home loss to the Chiefs on Sunday, and a 3-10 record on the year and you get a the formula for a firing. Knowing Snyder, I’m sure the team will take a cautious, measured approach to this decision-making process. (Just kidding. They’ll probably fire him tomorrow and try to hire Bill Cowher.)

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

13 responses to “Are There Troubles With Cutler Contract Talks? And Other Bullets”

  1. beerhelps

    THOM…..Dear god, WHY?

    Also, very glad Brad Biggs is not the Bears GM. He should skip the “statistical analysis” and maybe just watch the game.

  2. ISU Birds

    So I’m pretty sure the Packers are going to win the division…..which……..I would rather see than the Lions…….I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks the Lions are the most classless pieces of garbage in the NFL right?

    1. Funn Dave

      I mean, they’re portrayed that way in the media…but I’m not going to call an entire team classess because Donkey Kong Suh gets fined every time he farts.

  3. ISU Birds

    Who are the Bears going to get if not Cutler? I’m just so confused. They are going to be like 15th in the draft probably and they really need to worry about defense before they dive into building a new QB.

    Trade for somebody?? Names that come to mind in trade talks and you can call me crazy are Locker, Shaub, Flynn, maybe Cousins. IDK.

    1. FarmerTanColin

      I could see Locker don’t think Cousins is available but no Schaub or Flynn. Could see what it takes to pull Mallet, Drew Stanton(type of guys). It also is looking like a very deep QB class so grabbing someone in the 3-5th with Cutler franchised for a year could be reasonable.

      Value can be had on defense later and same in free agency. For first round selections unless a defensive guy of serious talent has dropped that is when I would go for a QB or keep improving the offensive line.

      1. Funn Dave

        If someone could teach Flynn how to run around a little, he might be a good Trestman project while Cutler (or McCown, if you’re feeling risky) sticks around another year.

  4. Funn Dave

    I guess I don’t have as much of a problem with Biggs’ methodology as Jay does. He removes things like defensive points from the equation, which are obviously the biggest variables. It just seems unfair to expect him to include every possible variable in his analysis. I mean, when you’re calculating someone’s batting average, you don’t take different stadiums into account….You just collect your numbers and trust your audience to realize that this one stat doesn’t tell the whole story. I mean, you show me that statistic that accounts for “the fact that the offense was still cohering as a unit at the start of the season.”

  5. JulioZuleta

    People that try to make the argument that Todd Collins should start over Jay Cutler give me a headache. Remember when Rex Grossman was an MVP candidate after 5 games in the Super Bowl season, and then turned back in to Rex Grossman? When a WRITER makes that argument, and tried to back it up with hilarious “analysis” like Biggs did, it’s just hard to comprehend.

    So many media guys have a vendetta against Jay for not giving them flowery quotes or being their buddy. It’s kind of funny to see the things they’ll say/levels they’ll go to to make him sound bad.

  6. FarmerTanColin

    I remember an old article saying that Jay would take like a 20% market cut to stay on the Bears. Last off season maybe? I think he legitimately wants to stay and who knows what would happen to Marshall if Jay left. Emergence of Jeffery and what they might have in Marquess Wilson might make that situation easier though as well.

    The wildcard is how much does Emery believe in Trestman’s system. Does the system make the QB or does a good QB make the system sort of argument. Maybe they believe if they find the “right” guy then they can save about 10 mil a season for other needs. It seems like Trestman’s system leans towards accurate throws an quick decisions with arm strength in a lower tier of QB evals. I think Jay is just lacking on the quick decisions sometimes.

  7. Ajbearsfan

    Ok so let’s say cutler does leave. How would that affect Brandon Marshall wanting to stay?(since they play well together and have wanted to keep doing so) I also am wondering if our current quarterback is enjoying a good season cause he is just playing good until that hot streak stops, or if it’s just because defenses haven’t seen him enough to know what to expect out of his skill set. I agree that bears need defense to be priority in offseason/draft, but what about a slot receiver and a contingency in case Marshall wants out?

  8. Ajbearsfan

    And what would be chances of bringing lovie smith back as defensive coordinator?