An ominous cloud hung over Chicago's fall chill all week. There was an uneasiness in the pit of Bears fans' stomachs they couldn't shake. Was the offensive explosion last week against the Atlanta Falcons an outlier? After Sunday's horrible 27-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the answer is a resounding yes.
What should have been clear before, but is undeniable now, is that quarterback Jay Cutler is wasting an elite Bears offense, and with it, a shot at the playoffs.
In the offseason the Bears rewarded Cutler, for what remains a mystery, a seven-year $126 million contract, making him the highest paid player in the NFL.
Their return on investment so far this year would make scratch-off lottery players proud. The Cutler led offense is averaging a pedestrian 22 points a game putting them 18th in the league. They're 17th in total offensive yards per game, 10th in passing yards per game, and 24th in rushing yards per game.
Mediocre across the board.
Yet the Bears have a world-class offensive scheme, running back, receiving core, and pass protection. But no matter what general manager Phil Emery provides Cutler, it's never enough.
There isn't another quarterback in the league who's paid so much, given so much talent, and still needs so much help to win.
And when you dig further into the numbers that help becomes magnified.
Since last year, Cutler led offenses are having trouble scoring on sustaining drives. The Bears are averaging 25 points a game when Cutler plays during this time. But when you exclude defense and special teams touchdowns that falls to 22 points a game.
Despite a bad Bears defense, they've shown the ability to create turnovers giving the offense short fields. And when you further exclude short field scoring drives of 40 yards or less, the Bears average falls to 17 points per game.
In the 17 games Cutler has played since last year, only six times have the Bears scored more than 20 points without this help.
Now of course those short field scores count. And yes, every offense receives help scoring too. And yes, a lot of quarterbacks in the league wouldn't have the ability to take advantage of it like Cutler has. He's made the opponents pay for sure.
But it is at the very least another warning sign of an elite offense's inability to consistently drive down the field enough to outscore their opponents. This has put an unfair and unsustainable burden on the defense.
On Sunday it showed all too well. Miami's quarterback Ryan Tannehill played brilliantly. He drove his team down the field at will making the most of the little he had to work with on offense.
I imagine he looked a few times across the field at all the talent on the Bears' bench, shook his head and thought, what a waste.