Jay Cutler's Last Stand: Time Running Out on Chicago Quarterback

Keith Grieve@@87sportsfansContributor IJanuary 27, 2011

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler needs drastic image repair.....soon
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler needs drastic image repair.....soonJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler now has the most famous knee in the history of Chicago since Michael Jordan needed some work done decades ago.

In the wake of the firestorm over Cutler being pulled from the NFC Conference Championship game with a sprained MCL, one thing is certain—once Opening Week 2011 rolls around, it's now or never for Cutler in the Second City.

Cutler brought baggage with him when the Bears acquired him from the Denver Broncos for two first-round draft picks and then-quarterback Kyle Orton.  Cutler apparently didn't appreciate new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels trying to shop him around to make room for Matt Cassel without running it by him first.

That decimated relationship led to the Broncos in need of a change, and the Bears were all too willing, still reeling from "If-Only-Rex-Grossman-Didn't-Throw-That-Last-Interception"-itis first diagnosed after Super Bowl XLI against the Indianapolis Colts.

Cutler's first season in Chicago was nothing to write home about, as he seemed to often forget that he actually played for the Bears and wasn't supposed to throw the ball to the guys in the other uniform.

Enter 2010—new offensive coordinator, no offensive scheme, same shoddy offensive line. Cutler ran for his life until the bye week, including getting concussed out of one game by a New York Giants sack attack that was absolutely gruesome to watch.

After the bye was another story though, as the line settled in and offensive coordinator Mike Martz was dangled off a bridge by his feet by head coach Lovie Smith until he agreed to balance the offensive play calling.

Lo and behold, the Bears were in the NFC Championship game.  In August, everyone thought the only way they would be there is if they bought tickets.  Now, they were taking on arch rival Green Bay for a return trip to the Super Bowl.

Only Cutler didn't deliver.

He had help, with bad protection and receivers who suddenly couldn't run a proper route making completions at a premium.  Ultimately, Cutler's injury would force the coaching staff to pull him from the game.  His apparent willing compliance with the move sent the entire sports world into a tizzy.

And now begins, as the dust settles and TMZ.com is following him around shopping malls, what could and maybe should be the final chapter in the Jay Cutler era in Chicago. Injuries sometimes can't be avoided, but another lackluster statistical year with his slumped shoulders and bowed head will end this grand experiment.

Chicago is called the "Second City" not because of any ranking, but rather because it rebuilt itself after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Whether Cutler can resemble that kind of a makeover remains to be seen, but oh what a story it will be.