Dec 102006
 
Authors: Nick Hemenway

Since the Broncos started this season, not a week has gone by without some sportscaster asking when Jay Cutler would be the starter in Denver.

Last week, that question was answered, and Jay Cutler took the field as the starting quarterback. All I can say is, it’s about time. Even though he is not mistake free, making Jay Cutler the starter is the spark our team needs to get back on track.

With the exception of the regular season opener, the Broncos started this season on a roll. Not only were we considered one of the elite teams in the league, our defense was on a record pace as the best defense in the league. Our offense, however, was another story. Plagued with inefficiency, the offense had to hope that the few points they scored was more than our great defense allowed. As bad as that mentality is, it actually worked for the first half of the season.

Then it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. The biggest hit to our team was the injuries. With people like Nick Ferguson, Sam Brandon, Matt Lepsis, and the amazing Cecil “The Diesel” Sapp out for the season, the flaws in our team became more evident, and unless Champ Bailey could somehow clone himself 10 times, the offense would have to step up to do their part.

Soon it became clear that our greatest weakness was the player taking the snaps. Sure, last year Jake had a good year for himself, and over his tenure in Denver he had a record of 40-18, but that doesn’t get us any more wins this season or in the future.

The week before he was benched, Plummer was ranked 29th among the league’s quarterbacks, being out-played by such stellar QBs like Bruce Gradkowski, Seneca Wallace and Charlie Frye. His quarterback rating was a pitiful 69.7, which was his lowest since coming to Denver.

In addition to the tangible statistics, Plummer has displayed, both this season and last, an inability to win big games. Every time we needed Jake to step up and have a big game, he choked. That tendency has become more frequent this season.

With that in mind, why even try to go any further with a quarterback who can’t win the big games? We might as well switch it up to someone who can.

Since the best quarterback ever, Bradlee Van Pelt, was not available, coach Shanahan decided the time was right to put in Jay Cutler, the quarterback out of Vanderbilt, who some analysts deemed to be the best quarterback to come out of the 2006 draft. By the way, the BVP reference was a joke, so don’t waste your time and write me a letter.

Although Vanderbilt is not known to be a school that produces top-tier quarterbacks, Jay Cutler stood out as a player with the mechanics, knowledge and athleticism necessary in the NFL. Knowing this, the Broncos traded up in the draft order so that we could claim this phenom hailing from the town of Santa Claus, Indiana.

As we all know, last week Cutler’s number was called, and to many fans’ relief, Jake Plummer was relegated to only touching the ball for field goals.

Although we suffered another disappointing loss, I saw something out of a Broncos quarterback that I haven’t seen since John Elway – poise. Even when Cutler’s back was against the wall, his head was still in the game, a quality rarely seen in Plummer. Jay didn’t start moping or lose his cool, he strapped on his helmet and threw a 71-yard TD pass to Brandon Marshall, albeit most of that was due to Marshall’s running.

At the end of the day, I am glad Jay Cutler is the one at the helm for the Broncos. Like Shanahan has said, there will be some tough times with Cutler due to his inexperience. However, it is important that we don’t forget that the man, the legend John Elway, didn’t do so well in his early days as a Bronco. And now his bust is shining bright in Canton, Ohio, in the Hall of Fame. So let’s forget about the past and concentrate on the road ahead, and hope that Jay Cutler will be the next QB to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Denver.

Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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