Jay Cutler: The Coach Killer
The Chicago Bears are arguably the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL right now. At the center of the dysfunction is (surprise, surprise) quarterback Jay Cutler. The latest controversy surrounding the Bears’ signal caller revolves around off-the-record comments made by Chicago offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer that implied that the Bears are having buyer’s remorse over the contract extension the team signed Cutler to last January. Kromer owned up to his comments, apologized to Cutler both publically and privately, and Cutler himself said it was a dead issue. Days later, in a Monday Night Football matchup against the New Orleans Saints, Cutler made it clear, by both his on-field play and actions on the Chicago sideline, that the chances of him having a professional relationship with Kromer and head coach Marc Trestman were slim to none — a fact confirmed when the Bears fired Trestman and hired John Fox, but how long until Fox becomes Cutler’s latest victim?
Following another dreadful performance in their 31-15 loss to the Saints in Week 15 , reports surfaced that Marc Trestman and the majority of his staff would be fired at the end of the 2014 season. After the firing, Trestman joined Mike Shanahan and Lovie Smith as the third head coach to lose his job after having Cutler as their team’s starting quarterback. Granted, the Bears’ struggles cannot be pinned solely on Cutler’s below-average play as the Bears have been downright terrible at times on defense this year. Nonetheless, it is understandably hard to not place the blame on a quarterback who has 24 turnovers in only 14 games this season. It’s also not Cutler who signed himself to a $126 million contract extension with $54 million guaranteed that basically makes him a lock to be in Chicago through the 2016 season. Cutler is, however, the quarterback that flashes just enough potential to fool coaches and executives into thinking he can be an elite quarterback in the NFL. Trestman was simply the last coach to believe in the mirage of Jay Cutler.
As the regular season came to a close with the Bears going 5-11, it is becoming clearer by the week that Cutler and Trestman don’t have much of a future together With a contract that commits the Bears to Cutler for at least two more seasons, Chicago can choose to either a) continue with their current dysfunctional state, or b) fire Trestman and hope that the third head coach during the Jay Cutler-era in Chicago is the charm. They chose option “b.”
Unfortunately, head coaches are not the only coaches who fall victim to the coaching curse of Jay Cutler. The Bears have already fired offensive coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz, and Mike Tice during Cutler’s tenure with the team, and it is a forgone conclusion that current offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer would be fired even if the Bears had shocked the sporting world and retained Marc Trestman as the team’s head coach. Assuming Kromer does not return to Chicago, Cutler will be playing under his fifth offensive coordinator in his seventh season with the Bears in 2015.
Potential candidates for the Bears offensive coordinator job this offseason should consider that Turner, Martz, nor Tice have yet to reach the level of NFL offensive coordinator in their coaching careers again since being fired by Chicago. In fact all coaches being considered for jobs in Chicago should take a long, hard look at Jay Cutler’s track record of killing, or severely hampering, the careers of coaches he has played for throughout his career.
update: this article was originally written before the Bears signed John Fox — it has been updated with that information in mind.