Cutler George

His words should not be taken lightly, considering he played with or against Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino, Warren Moon, Joe Montana and Steve Young, among others.

"To this day I've never seen anybody throw the ball the way Jeff George did," said former NFL cornerback Alan Grant, who was in the same Colts draft class as George. "The way he threw the ball was just mesmerizing. It was incredible … it was like it was coming out of that Jugs machine."

Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan also was mesmerized by Jay Cutler's passes. He said that Cutler had a stronger arm than John Elway, Shanahan's former quarterback who had one of the most powerful in NFL history.

George and Cutler not only own better arms than many of the all-time greats, but they also share similar statistics -- especially when taking into account that the latter has played in a much more passing-friendly decade.

George (1990-2001):
124 starts, 57.9 completion percentage, 27,602 yards, 154 TDs, 113 INTs, 358 sacks, 80.4 QB rating, one playoff win

Cutler (2006-2014):
119 starts, 61.7 completion percentage, 27,749 yards, 183 TDs, 130 INTs, 256 sacks, 85.2 QB rating, one playoff win

Jay Cutler is Jeff George 2.0.

George Cutler

Both the Colts and Broncos traded up in the first round to select the Indiana-born quarterbacks. The Colts then traded George to the Falcons after four years; the Broncos traded Cutler to the Bears after three.

Both were sought after because of their terrific arms, though that attribute has not translated to sustained success on the field.

"Their personalities are similar where they’re kind of standoffish," said Bobby Hebert, who played quarterback with George on the Falcons and now works on Saints broadcasts. "Both of them (had) great arms … but it's not the end-all when it comes to the NFL."


Cutler has been called everything from apathetic (a result of dismissive body language that has been mocked on the website, Smokin’ Jay Cutler) to a malingerer (after his mysterious knee injury, which sidelined him during the NFC championship game in 2011) to a bad teammate (cursing and pushing J'Marcus Webb).

After the Broncos' 52-21 loss to the Chargers in Week 17 of the 2008 season, he publicly blamed the defense. After a Chicago victory in 2013, a reporter witnessed a security guard excitedly tell Cutler, "I'll see you tomorrow!" The quarterback brushed past without acknowledging him.


In Atlanta the offensive linemen were less enamored with George and got along better with Hebert, though the wide receivers liked George's pinpoint accuracy.

During 7-on-7 drills, George would spin 50-yard crossing passes on target. Falcons quarterbacks coach Darrel "Mouse" Davis remembers one Atlanta practice session when George faced a pass rush, rolled out to the right and fired a perfect sidearm pass for 20-plus yards.

"It was truly amazing," said Davis, the innovator of the run-and-shoot offense. "He could throw sidearm better than most guys could overhand."

Coaches -- as they did with Cutler -- would marvel at that kind of ability and think they could mold him.

"That one fundamental action of throwing the ball -- no one could deny," Grant said. "That's why no matter what happened, wherever he was, he kept getting opportunities. Every coach was like, 'well, I can make that work.'"

George started at quarterback for 10 offensive coordinators during his 12 years. Cutler’s offensive coordinator for the 2015 season is Adam Gase, and that represents his sixth different offensive coordinator in the past 10 years.

Cutler takes sacks because he holds onto the ball too long. Similarly, George -- instead of taking what the defense gave him -- would too often go for the 40-yard reception even if a blitz was bearing down on him.

But the ultimate undoing of George, whom critics labeled as arrogant and hardheaded, might have been his inability to get along with some of his head coaches.

After head coach June Jones benched George during a 33-18 loss to the Eagles in September 1996, the Falcons coach and quarterback yelled at each other on the sidelines. The team suspended George four games. The Redskins also released him after Marty Schottenheimer’s sideline squabble with George.

Jones George

"He had the belief that he was the best," Davis said. "When someone doubted him, he would flare up."

Cutler seems less combative toward his coaches but has issues with his on-the-field decision making.

While Davis praised George's ability to pick up the run-and-shoot -- a scheme similar to many of the spread offenses run by teams today -- Cutler can struggle to read defenses. It's a reason -- in addition to being overconfident in his own prodigious arm strength -- that he led all NFL quarterbacks in turnovers during 2014.

Cutler threw 18 interceptions, including one to Dolphins safety Reshad Jones during Miami's 27-14 victory.

"He was looking where he threw the ball," Jones said. "He was always looking at his receivers and never looking off."

After the Saints defeated the Bears 31-15 on Monday Night Football last season, New Orleans cornerback Keenan Lewis said they stifled Cutler by creating pre-snap confusion.

"He got fooled," said Hebert, who does Saints pregame and postgame shows for WWL radio. "He would get tricked. And coaches know that."


Despite these flaws, Cutler has shown flashes. In 2007 while losing more than 30 pounds due to suffering from undiagnosed diabetic issues, he battled to complete 63.6 percent of his passes for 3,497 yards, 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has thrown for more than 3,500 yards and at least 25 touchdowns on three occasions, including the 2008 season when he made the Pro Bowl.

Jay Cutler

George also had his moments, throwing for 3,734 and 4,143 yards in back-to-back seasons. He led the league in passing yards in 1997 with 3,917, but his Raiders went 4-12. Two years later, though, he threw 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading the Vikings to an 8-2 record.

A main difference is that Cutler has been on just two teams. George, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 NFL draft, became a journeyman, playing for five franchises -- Colts, Falcons, Raiders, Vikings and Redskins -- not including a 2004 stint with the Bears for whom he didn't play a game.

This Bears season is a crucial one for the 32-year-old Cutler. If he underperforms, it could be his last in Chicago. On June 1, 2016, his cap hit reportedly will drop more than $15 million from 2015, making it more palatable for Chicago to endure the dead money and move on without him.

The time to salvage his career is now. Otherwise, his complete potential will remain untapped -- like a cannon-armed quarterback who tempted myriad coaches two decades ago.

More: Eddie Vedder Makes Cutler Crack To Aaron Rodgers

-- Follow Jeff Fedotin on Twitter @JFedotin.