Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/23/12
Defense wins championships, or so the old adage says. But an inept quarterback can aptly foil that ideology, something the Chicago Bears seem destined to prove this season. The Bears' defense is unequivocally the most aggressive in the NFL, and may very well have the league's best unit -- although, Houston would give them a run for that title. Led by linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, the Bears have once again produced one of the fiercest defensive units in football. Chicago ranks near the top of the league in nearly every single defensive category, allowing less than 300 total yards per game, good for sixth, and a miniscule 71 rushing yards per game -- a single yard less than the league-leading Chargers. Even more impressive, though, has been the Bears' ability to keep opposing offenses out of the end zone and off the scoreboard. Behind the ball skills of a much-improved secondary, led by Charles "Peanut" Tillman, and the aggressive play from guys like Briggs, Urlacher and Julius Peppers, the Bears have forced the most turnovers (24) in the NFL through the first seven weeks of the season -- even though they've only played six games. The Bears have also allowed the fewest points of any team in the league with exactly 13 per game. Defense is clearly a forte -- not Matt -- for the Bears this season. And through six games at least, it's proven to be Super Bowl caliber. But even with such strength to lean on defensively, Chicago still bares one fatal flaw: Jay Cutler. Now in his fourth season in Chicago, Cutler continues to be almost as big of an enigma as the Cubs. He's like night and day. Sometimes you get the talented, intelligent and fiery Cutler who possesses the razor-sharp focus to win under any circumstance. At other times there's the lazy, arrogant, careless version who throws multiple interceptions, scowls on the sidelines and then redirects blame onto his teammates post game -- this sounds eerily familiar to the evolution of every game he's ever played against the Packers. Cutler is as physically gifted a quarterback as there is the NFL right now.  He's got the prototypical size at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, good mobility and a cannon arm that can make just about any throw on the field. He has all the makings of an elite NFL quarterback, but none of the makeup. While Cutler's success is predicated on his physical tools and the ability to make plays many other quarterbacks can't, those attributes are also the root of his failures. Much like Brett Favre, Cutler is a reckless and erratic gunslinger who trusts and relies on his natural talents far too often. And that Jekyll and Hyde act has been on full display this season. In a Week 5 win over the Cowboys, Cutler was at his best. He completed 75 percent of his passes, building some great chemistry with his No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall and tossed a pair of touchdowns to carry the offensive load. The Bears ultimately pulled out the 34-18 victory and Cutler was heralded as the hero. But it was not even three weeks before that Cutler was painted the villain after completing just 41 percent of his throws to go along with four interceptions in an ugly loss to -- who else -- the Green Bay Packers. Chicago's 5-1 record might indicate that Cutler's good has outweighed the bad this season, but that's just not the case. Cutler has completed a career low 56.7 percent of his passes in 2012, an unsurprising number considering that his completion percentage has steadily dropped in each of his six seasons as a full-time starter. Aside from the inaccuracy, though, Cutler has also seen bloated interception totals with seven already through six games -- the same amount he threw in 10 games last season. Cutler's underwhelming numbers and hostile demeanor aren't exactly the sort of leadership expected from a franchise quarterback, nor do they merit his $7.7 million salary. Worst of all is the fact that Cutler's inabilities and attitude could ultimately cost the Bears any championship hopes that may be swirling in Chicago. The Bears undoubtedly have a championship-caliber defense and the physical makeup of a Super Bowl team. But as long as Cutler remains under center, or at least continues with his inept decision-making and irreverent behavior, then Chicago can kiss their "super" excitement goodbye. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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