Anyone who has read these rants for a while knows that I would never get a nomination as “Commentator of the Year” from the Jay Cutler Fan Club. Of the competent QBs in the NFL at this time, he would be my last choice to be the QB for my NFL team. Nevertheless, I have to come to his defense to some extent today regarding the Twittter Twaddle Tsunami that showed up on Sunday as Jay Cutler rode the bench in the second half of the Bears/Packers game. The fact is – - unknown at the time of the Twitter Twaddle Tsunami – - that Jay Cutler suffered a partial tear of his MCL sometime in that game. The fact is that he was – - and remains – - injured.
To all those Bear fans who burned Jay Cutler’s jersey after the game, it is now time for you to change the subject and say that you were angry at his poor performance on Sunday and that is why you incinerated the jersey. It is pretty clear that is not why you struck the match in the first place, but that is your only refuge this morning. Nasty facts get in the way of your spleen venting. He was injured on Sunday; you did not realize that; you reacted to his bench demeanor and the Twitter Twaddle Tsunami; today, you need to find an excuse to explain your behavior.
You can pretend you were protesting his poor play when in reality you were reacting to your improperly held belief that he “quit” on the team. That is what the Twitter Twaddlers concluded also- – and like Bears’ fans, they were wrong too.
If anyone wants to point fingers and heap scorn on someone regarding the Bears’ loss on Sunday, how about pointing those fingers at these three folks:
Jerry Angelo – - Bears’ GM
Lovie Smith – - Bears’ head coach
Mike Martz – - Bears’ offensive coordinator.
Injuries happen in the NFL. I know that; you know that; those three folks know that. When a team sustains an injury to a key player, the best teams have a “Plan B” they can go to which will maintain their chance to win. GMs construct teams for that eventuality; coaches need to plan for crises and adapt to them. That is what the Bears did not do well last weekend.
Forget who had the final say on the matter here, but all of those three individuals had to have concluded that the presence of Todd Collins on the Bears’ roster was a good idea. [Really?] Certainly, Smith and Martz had to decide on which of the Bears’ three QBs would be the primary backup on Sunday and which would be the emergency QB. [Todd Collins as #2, really?] So, when it was concluded that Jay Cutler would not be under center for the rest of the game and the Bears turned over the reins to Todd Collins ask yourself a few questions:
1. Was that the best use of a roster slot for a backup QB available to the Bears? [Hint: Not on Planet Earth in the 2010/2011 NFL season!]
2. Was he the right choice to be the #2 QB on Sunday as opposed to the #3 QB? [Hint: AYKM?]
3. Did it make sense to put Collins in the game cold and call three consecutive passing plays? [Hint: YGTBFKM!]
Jay Cutler – - not my favorite NFL QB by a long shot – - had nothing to do with the Bears’ options for Sunday’s game once he was injured. If Bears’ fans want to engage in any more impotent spleen venting, they might consider hanging in effigy any or all of the three individuals noted above.
To be sure, Jay Cutler set the table for this Twitter Twaddle Tsunami. The normal adjectives used to describe Jay Cutler’s persona are things like dour, aloof, standoffish and humorless. Those are not flattering adjectives; writers and broadcasters did not come up with those words based on some predisposed animus toward Jay Cutler; he behaved in ways that led to those descriptions. The consequence of those descriptions is that Jay Cutler did not put himself in a position where he had a large reserve of good will among football fans at large. It is hard to blame someone for his personality so blame is not what I am trying to get at here. What is the case is that Jay Cutler’s behavior did not make him a “beloved figure”; and so, when something unusual happened and that “something unusual” seemed to make the Bears’ lose a shot at a Super Bowl appearance, there was no way to stop the outpouring of bile as represented by the Twitter Twaddle Tsunami.
Frankly, the Chicago Bears made the situation worse than it needed to be. If Jay Cutler could not play, why didn’t they walk him back to the locker room “for X-Rays” even if they already knew that the X-Rays would not have any effect on the decision to keep him on the bench? In politics, that is called “plausible deniability”. Had that happened – instead of having Jay Cutler sit solemnly on the bench away from the sidelines and the rest of the team – perhaps there would have been more empathy with his injury. Adding to the potential for fans to believe that Jay Cutler just quit last weekend was the less than candid sounding responses given by Lovie Smith after the game regarding what happened and when they knew the birthday cake had hit the fan.
It is hard for me to use Sunday’s game to indict Jay Cutler’s “toughness”. This guy was sacked more than any other NFL QB this year – - and he kept playing. If he lacks “toughness”, how did he persevere all season long until last week’s playoff game?
Allow me to summarize:
1. I would not want Jay Cutler to be the QB of my NFL team. That statement has nothing to do with the events that transpired last Sunday; that has been my position for several years.
2. Jay Cutler played poorly on Sunday even before he was injured – - unless he was injured on one of the first few plays of the game.
3. At some point, Jay Cutler sustained an injury in that game – - one that subsequently has been shown to be a “Grade II tear of the MCL”. He tried to continue to play but that did not work. Only he and the team doctors – - and none of the Twitter Twaddlers” – - know what other possibilities existed at the time regarding that injury.
4. Jay Cutler sat on the bench with a posture and a demeanor that seemed to be distant and uncaring. The FOX sideline reporter demonstrated the uselessness of that job by not learning anything about the situation and passing new information along to the viewers. The Twitter Twaddle Tsunami began without waiting for any facts to emerge – - and here we are.
5. Meanwhile, the focus on Jay Cutler and his injury vis a vis his “toughness” has allowed the Bears’ poor decisions with regard to roster construction, emergency QB identification and play calling to escape the scrutiny they deserve.
The Chicago Bears now have a more than interesting situation on their hands. Their fans have two choices:
A. The fans can admit they were irrational dolts when they burned Jay Cutler’s jerseys and embrace him once again as “their QB”. [Aside: The Bears may see this as an economic boon if they think fans will rush out to buy new Jay Cutler jerseys once the next season begins. That thinking is no less irrational than Todd Collins as your backup QB in a playoff game in 2011…]
B. The fans can ride Jay Cutler’s ass every time he throws an incompletion – - which will surely do immensely positive things for Jay Cutler’s “dour and aloof disposition”.
With at least a contingent of their fans choosing Option B above, the Bears have to wonder if this is going to work out for them. They have invested resources in the trade to acquire Jay Cutler; then his contract was extended through the 2013 season with a reported $20M guaranteed in that contract extension – - over and above what was guaranteed in the deal he signed as a rookie with Denver. That is not a trivial investment and the team now faces the potential of a fan revolt.
The key to what the Bears need to do is hidden from public view – - not that the fans will let that triviality get in the way of their expressions. The key lies in two places:
- in the locker room where the sentiments of the other 52 members of the Bears’ roster must be assessed and accommodated and
- in the team’s Front Office where strategic decisions have to be made regarding the future of the team and – at the same time – the future employment of the front office decision makers who acquired Jay Cutler in the first place. There are lots of moving parts in this situation…
My suspicion is that the Jay Cutler Fan Club in Chicago has had sufficient defections recently that it could hold its next plenary session in a mini-van. Nonetheless, when they hold that next plenary session, there is actually a chance that those folks might have something nice to say about me – - for the first time in the history of that organization.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………