Chicago Bears 2016 Position Preview: Quarterback

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

2016 Bears Position Preview: Quarterback

Building Blocks:

Jay Cutler – Before the 2015 season, it was questionable whether the Bears new management would even keep Jay Cutler on the roster. There were rumors of draft day trades, a possible outright release, and multiple trades that had the Bears getting the short end of the stick. Luckily for the Bears, Cutler had his best season in Chicago with a career high 92.3 QB rating and a career full season low in interceptions with just 11.

It may have took the 5th coordinator in six years to get Cutler to be responsible with the football, but last season things finally started to click for Cutler despite playing without his top three receivers for most of the season. Whether it was the new coordinator or just a natural maturation process…

Cutler protected the ball better in the pocket, stopped throwing so many ill-advised jump balls, pulled the ball down and ran when it was there, and overall just played like a veteran QB.

The Bears are on the books for $13M guaranteed in 2016 and $3M more for the remainder of Cutler’s contract, so it would make little to no sense cap-wise to get rid of him after his best season as a Bear. Promoting QB coach Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator will provide Cutler with the continuity he hasn’t had since Mike Martz’s two year stint in Cutler’s 2nd-3rd years with the Bears. Hopefully the Loggains era doesn’t end in a similar disaster as the Martz experience did.

Things should be easier for Cutler in 2016 as long as the Bears re-sign Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and Eddie Royal are healthy, maybe one of the young receivers (Wilson, Meredith, Bellamy) improve a little, or the Bears bring in some talent in the draft. It would be almost impossible for Cutler to have less weapons than he did in 2015 and the O-line should be better as well. The 2nd year in a similar system should also improve Cutler’s overall performance.

Cutler is coming off his best season as a Bear, has a coordinator he’s comfortable with, and should have way more weapons at his disposal next season. With Cutler finally showing signs of being at least a league average QB, it would make no sense for the Bears to get rid of him now with only one year of guaranteed money left on his deal.

This will be Cutler’s last chance to salvage his Bear career. If he can build on his strong 2015 season and lead the Bears to a respectable / playoff season, then the Bears next decision will be whether to extend Cutler’s contract instead of whether to release him as it’s been the last few years. The Cutler / Loggains combo has the potential to lead the Bears to their best offense in years, but if Cutler can’t at least maintain his new found ball security, the Bears can move on with almost no salary cap penalty in 2017.

David Fales – Was a non-factor until a dominant performance in the Bears fourth preseason game vs the Browns. Fales went 14-18, for 131 yards, 2 TDs, and zero INTs in his only preseason start. He looked surprisingly poised, accurate, and competent as the Bears QB. Not much was expected from a 6th round pick in 2014, but Fales put up huge numbers in college and has drawn some attention from other NFL squads with his preseason play and strong performance in Bears practices.

The Ravens, Browns, 49ers, and Patriots all made attempts to sign Fales off the Bears practice squad this season and those are only the ones that were public knowledge. Coming out of college Fales was known for having a quick and compact release, an accurate arm on short-to-intermediate throws, nice touch, and good football instincts.

Fales has just average size (6’2 | 217), lacks a big arm, is an average athlete at best, and played against suspect competition in college. He’s improved his ability to look off safeties since college, gotten stronger, and proved he can perform against at least 2nd string NFL players.

Fales’ value has increased significantly since the Bears drafted him. The fact that the Bears protected him from other teams when they tried to sign him during the 2015 season leads me to believe that the Bears have long-term plans for Fales as at least a backup.