My voice mail has been cleared out and I’m ready for messages from you Chicago Bears fans who just love to hate your former quarterback, Jay Cutler.
Here goes … I hope Cutler succeeds in Miami just to spite you.
How’s that for cutting to the chase.
In fact, I predict Cutler will lead the Dolphins to the playoffs this year after he was coerced out of retirement over the weekend by his former offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, to replace Ryan Tannehill, who suffered an injury that’s likely season-ending.
The disdain for Cutler was head-shaking and mostly unfair from a fan base that wouldn’t know a good quarterback if it hit them in the face.
Jim McMahon was a good QB back in the day, but any QB (including Cutler) would have won with that 1985 team led by the greatest defense in history and great offensive players (Walter Payton, Willie Gault and a great offensive line made up of Jimbo Covert, Mark Bortz, Jay Hilgenberg, Keith Van Horne and Tom Thayer).
Overall Cutler was better than McMahon (go ahead, yell at me in a voice mail about that statement, too … you’d be wrong, but go ahead and try). In fact, I think the 1985 Bears offense was better when McMahon’s backup, Steve Fuller, started (they trounced Atlanta and Dallas in back-to-back weeks by a combined score of 80-0 with Fuller under center) because McMahon was injured too much.
But this is more about Cutler now than past Bears quarterbacks — a list that also includes nauseating names such as Henry Burris, Cade McNown, Rick Mirer and Jonathan Quinn.
I just don’t get the Cutler hatred. What’s the point?
You don’t like his face? I get that since plenty of people have said that to me over the years.
You don’t think he’s emotional enough? I bet you’re the same fans who didn’t like Lovie Smith because he wasn’t as gung-ho as Mike Ditka, even though Smith was a smarter coach (oh man, more voice mails coming on that one, too).
Sure, Cutler’s last season with the Bears wasn’t great — he was injured (similar to McMahon), had interception issues in limited time (similar to Brett Favre in 2005 and 2006 for the Green Bay Packers before rebounding in 2007), and the team surrounding him was very flawed (you can thank a pair of flawed general managers in Jerry Angelo and Phil Emery for that).
But all many Bears’ fans could do is blame Cutler. He was an easy target. I guess they forgot about 2010 through 2015.
You see, he was darn good in those years when he was on the field, in case you forgot.
In 2010, he led the Bears to the NFC Championship Game before losing to the Packers. But Cutler got hurt, and Chicago might have won if he didn’t get hurt. All Bears fans could do was call him “weak” or “a quitter” because he didn’t have the right look on his face on the sidelines while injured.
In 2011, the Bears were 7-3 before Cutler got hurt trying to make a tackle (going all out on the field, but fans probably forgot about that) and he was out for the season. They make the playoffs if he was healthy, and who knows … maybe the Bears are the team that beats Green Bay in those playoffs.
In 2012, the Bears went 10-6 but missed the playoffs because the division champion Packers lost to Minnesota in the final game, giving the wildcard to the Vikings instead of Chicago. Minnesota lost in the first round at Green Bay, but maybe the Bears would have beaten the Pack.
Smith was wrongly fired after that season despite the 10-6 mark.
In 2013 and 2014, under new coach Marc Trestman, Cutler had two of his best offensive seasons. In the first, in just 11 games (injury again), he had 19 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and completion rate of 63 percent. In the biggest game of the season — a 33-28 loss at home to the Packers in Week 17 (winner-take-all for the division title) — Cutler was the better QB on the field by a longshot. He was 15 of 24 with two TDs and a QB rating of 103.8. Aaron Rodgers, coming off seven weeks off with a broken collarbone caused by the Bears, had more yards (318), but also had two interceptions and just an 85.2 rating.
All Bears fans remember is that their team lost on Rodgers’ TD pass in the final minute. But it was all the defense’s fault, not Cutler.
In 2014, Cutler had a better season, with 66 percent completion and more than 3,800 yards in 15 games (he was benched the last week for stupid reasons, and would have had 4,000 yards easily). Fans remember that he led the league with 18 interceptions, but he also had 28 TD passes — the most in any season in his career (don’t those numbers look a lot like Favre?).
In 2015, his only season under Gase, Cutler was 64 percent, 21 TDs, 11 picks and 3,659 yards. He wasn’t the Bears’ problem at all.
So now Cutler is back with Gase on a team that made the playoffs last year, and has a good defense and running game. If he stays healthy (not a guarantee in this NFL and at 34 years old), not only will the Dolphins make the playoffs, I think they could beat the almighty Patriots at least once.
And you Cutler haters can eat some crow as your team debates between Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez and Mitch Trubisky.
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at email@example.com or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.