Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Bears: Jay Cutler and the read option
By Kevin Seifert
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune wrote a good piece this week on the possibility of the Chicago Bears using the read option, and I think the topic merits further discussion.
To be clear, all we know at this point is that new coach Marc Trestman has acknowledged the scheme is in his playbook. According to the Tribune, Trestman said: "Whether we'll do it, I don't know. We've studied it."
Given the sudden prevalence of the scheme throughout the NFL, as well as Trestman's skills for offensive innovation, it makes perfect sense for the Bears to study the possibility. To me, it gets interesting when you put it in context with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Like his counterpart in Green Bay, Cutler has been much more productive as a runner in his career than most people probably realize. But unlike Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Cutler is entering the final year of his contract.
I'm sure Cutler will do as he is asked by Trestman, his best and final chance to break through as an elite quarterback. But it's fair to ask whether any quarterback in his financial situation would be enthused about increasing his exposure in the open field. Naturally, the buy-in factor is critical in such a request.
On the other hand, Cutler is a nifty and generally willing runner. As the chart shows, only a handful of quarterbacks have run for more yards than Cutler since he entered the NFL in 2006. His 262 attempts are the fifth-most over that stretch. And lest you wonder about aging trends, Cutler's 233 rushing yards last season at age 29 were a career high.
It's difficult to imagine the Bears would make the read option anything more than an occasional twist. Generally speaking, a 30-year-old quarterback in a contract year isn't the ideal candidate to run that sort of scheme. But every now and then? Cutler certainly can do it -- and probably better than you think.