No Cutler in survey? Not a good sign

If the Bears don't want to look into their own mirror, they should look into the one that the NFL Network is holding up for them.

The cable-TV outlet surveyed players around the league and ranked the β€œThe Top 100 Players of 2011.”

Not surprisingly, the Bears' offense barely rated. Only Devin Hester made the list, at No. 32, and he's there basically as a kick returner.

The most important reflection of the Bears' offensive wasteland is a particularly bad sign: Quarterback Jay Cutler is nowhere to be found, other than of course at a Cubs-White Sox game with his reality-TV squeeze.

The Bears aren't going to win a Super Bowl unless Cutler becomes one of the game's premier QBs. They might get lucky and reach the NFC title game like last season, but most years their luck will run out much sooner.

Encouraging is that Cutler is due, perhaps overdue, to reach his potential as he approaches his sixth NFL season (if there is an NFL season this year).

Anyway, the Bears' defense did OK in the NFL Network survey with Julius Peppers at No. 10, Brian Urlacher No. 49 and Lance Briggs No. 92.

But none of those guys is as important as Cutler. You don't think that quarterbacks rather than defenses win championships? Then why is the MVP of the Super Bowl usually a quarterback?

Look, I'm not telling you anything you don't know. After not having a great quarterback for most of our lifetimes, Bears fans especially understand what one means.

Just as the Cubs have been uncanny in their inability to win a World Series for longer than a century, the Bears have been uncanny in their inability to find a franchise quarterback for longer than a half-century.

Cutler is supposed to be up to the challenge. But Bears fans still are waiting for him to be everything his size, arm and athletic ability project him to be.

Myriad reasons explain why Cutler hasn't been yet, not all of them associated with his infamous personality and body language. Add revolving offensive coordinators, along with the Bears' dubious wide receivers and offensive line.

Still, round up all the excuses, uh, make that reasons Cutler hasn't been all he should be and the fact remains that, well, he hasn't been all he should be.

Even if Cutler is No. 101 β€” the list doesn't go there β€” that wouldn't be good enough to fulfill expectations of him.

Twelve quarterbacks are in the Top 100: Tom Brady (No. 1), Peyton Manning (2), Drew Brees (9), Aaron Rodgers (11, and how fast would you trade No. 10 Julius Peppers for him?), Michael Vick (20), Philip Rivers (26), Ben Roethlisberger (41), Matt Ryan (52), Tony Romo (72), Josh Freeman (86), Joe Flacco (90) and Donovan McNabb (100).

Tony Romo ahead of Cutler? Josh Freeman ahead of Cutler? Joe Flacco? Even the struggling Donovan McNabb?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes, according to this survey of NFL players. That doesn't speak well of Cutler, or the Bears' hopes for that matter.

Quarterback rankings and Super Bowl titles don't always line up perfectly. Eli Manning won one, still is in his prime and didn't make the Top 100.

But with no other offensive headliners in these ratings, the Bears require a quarterback to make his teammates better.

If the NFL Network survey is remotely credible, Jay Cutler has a long way to go to be that quarterback.

The mirror doesn't lie.