A franchise quarterback, which is what the Bears believed they were getting when they mortgaged two drafts to acquire Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos, ultimately is given that label because he makes the players around him better. It's difficult to argue that Cutler made those around him better in 2009. Sure, a few receivers made a few plays here and there and tight end Greg Olsen caught eight touchdown passes (three in a 41-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals), but you can't say Cutler elevated the play of his teammates.
The Bears were dysfunctional on that side of the ball, and the team is hoping the blame belongs more with Ron Turner's old playbook than anything else. Because above and beyond all other factors entering the 2010 season, it's about Cutler guiding the Bears.
The Bears paid handsomely because they were tired of trying to be perfect in all other areas and get by with a "game manager" at quarterback. They wanted their own big-time quarterback who could make up for deficiencies in other areas. They wanted a passer who could lead them back when the game was on the line. They wanted a passer that could put a game away for them in the second half so they didn't have to rely on a teetering defense and special teams.