"I really question whether he can play," Tarkenton, the Hall of Fame quarterback and former Minnesota Viking, said Friday on "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "Quarterbacks need to make their team better. If it's a bad team, they can even make a bad team better. Somebody may say well, even Peyton Manning couldn't help the Bears. Yes, he could. Tom Brady could, too. They might not win the championship or get to the playoffs, but they would make that team better. Those wide receivers who are struggling would be better because they would make them better."
Cutler threw five interceptions, including one in the end zone in the final seconds of the Bears' 10-6 loss Thursday to the San Francisco 49ers.
Tarkenton, who led the Vikings to three Super Bowls in the 1970s, disputed the notion that Cutler's mechanics needed work. It's a lot simpler than that, he said.
"Great quarterbacks, good quarterbacks, make plays," Tarkenton said on "The Waddle and Silvy Show." "Mechanics is overwrought. Whether they're strong-armed, weak-armed, throw sidearm, throw overhead, they're fast, they're quick, I don't care. I just want someone to make plays. Peyton Manning doesn't look beautiful back there.
"Jay Cutler had every opportunity to make plays for his team last night and every opportunity he didn't. That's how I judge a quarterback: Either you make plays or you don't. I don't even want to talk about mechanics."
What advice would Tarkenton give Cutler?
"If Jay Cutler is not comfortable with the offense or the way they are calling the plays, he ought to go in there and tell that coach [expletive]," Tarkenton said during radio interview. "Dan Fouts came into the league and for the first couple of years he was struggling. He said, 'What do you do?' I said, 'Dan, if you're not willing to go tell your head coach or your coordinator to kiss off, then you can't play quarterback in this league.'
"I don't think that will solve the problems of the Chicago Bears. The Chicago Bears need to start over. But for Jay Cutler to be a quarterback and make plays, he's got to take charge."