I understand the 8-3 Bears are leading the NFC North, but it's absurd to say that that's because of Cutler. And I also understand that the Bears lost games against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers in his absence—well, absence and a half. And I understand that the Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings in his return.
First, let's not fool ourselves: The Bears' success is based around its defense. It's insulting to the likes of Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Julius Peppers to say otherwise. The Bears are second in both total defense and scoring defense.
Second, just because the Bears have not won without Cutler does not necessarily mean that they win because of him. The Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers, who have a combined record of 25-7-1, a .773 win percentage. The Bears' wins have come against teams that have posted a combined record of 35-52-1, a .403 win percentage.
But I digress. This isn't about the weakness of the Bears' schedule. It's about how Jay Cutler doesn't deserve to be in the running for league MVP.
Now, the Bears have not won without him, but—and this may just be speculation—they probably would not have beaten the Texans or the 49ers even if they did have him.
The 49ers are first in scoring defense and second in pass defense. The Texans are fifth in scoring defense and 19th in pass defense. Whether it was Jay Cutler or Jason Campbell, the Bears offense would have struggled.
Also, just within the Bears organization, how is Jay Cutler a more valuable asset than Brandon Marshall? So far, in 286 pass attempts, he has targeted Marshall 111 times. That's almost 40 percent of his offense in targets alone.
Of those targets, Marshall has made 77 grabs, which is a 69 percent success rate.
For the record, Marshall has 77 catches for 910 yards and seven touchdowns with Cutler as his QB. Cutler has completed 174 passes for 2002 yards and 13 TDs. That's 45 percent of his yards and 64 percent of his TDs.
Marshall was shut down against San Francisco, but it's hard to place all the blame on Jason Campbell. The 49ers have a stingy defense and can take the best player out of a game. Again, it's just speculation, but Cutler may not have been able to fare much better even if he were healthy.
Regardless, Jay Cutler needs Brandon Marshall more than Brandon Marshall needs Jay Cutler. Against Houston, Marshall still managed to put up six catches for 86 yards with Campbell at the helm.
Furthermore, Cutler is 27th in passing yards, 17th in completion percentage, 20th in TDs and has thrown the ninth-most interceptions, which ranks him 25th among QB ratings.
On the other hand, both Brady and Manning have also led their teams to 8-3 records while also posting much better numbers. So, Cutler isn't even close to the top at his position and he's generating MVP talk.
Just because the Bears cannot win without Cutler is not virtue enough to put him in the MVP conversation.