I’ll be candid with you today, shall I?
There are folks out there who study the game of football passionately—Xs and Os people, I will say; analysts, you might say—who absolutely despise “intangibles.” Unless they can chart it, dissect it and make sweet, sweet love to it, they can tend to dismiss it completely.
I’m not one of those people. Oh, I watch all-22 film, and I know the game on what I will call a rational level. You see, I don’t put too much stock into any one thing because I just don’t think the world spins that way. I use my gut admittedly too much.
Said gut is of course mixed with years of study at one level or another, and sometimes it’s spot-frickin-on; other times it gets made into a fool. But here’s what I know: players perform in contract years. For whatever reason, they do. That has been well documented.
And that is the epitome of an intangible. You can’t tie it to anything but desire, or perhaps a forced mental toughness because of the unavoidable future, should you fail to perform at this one last critical juncture.
You guys remember Tom Brady? Yeah, the Tom Brady everyone thought couldn’t play football in the NFL. That’s the guy.
If you had dissected Brady’s tangibles as a rookie, you would have thought what everyone else thought: his arm is not strong enough; he’s built all wrong; he doesn’t throw a tight spiral; he’s system-player who will be exposed if he has to ad-lib; etc., etc.
But you know what Tom Brady has that makes him potentially the best quarterback the NFL has ever seen? Mental toughness and unshakeable confidence. Those things are intangible. You can’t chart them, but they are everything in the world of professional sports.
But I digress.
I hadn’t meant this as a rant about Tom Brady, or intangibles necessarily. My point was to set the stage for what I will say next: Phil Emery would be a fool to not let Jay Cutler play out his contract this season and prove what he’s really made of.
Here’s the stone cold reality: if Jay Cutler and Tom Brady had worked out for even the least experienced NFL scouts prior to being drafted, 100% of them would have argued in favor of Jay Cutler—emphatically. Some to the point of ravings. The experienced ones would have done the same, and exactly 100% of them would have been proved wrong.
There is something to be said for Cutler’s attitude whether you like it or not, Kool-Aid slugging fan. It does mean something in terms of his ability to lead a group of men to victory. Because a big part of this game is mental.
And with that, we’ve come full circle back to what I said to to begin with; Players perform in contract years. Henry Melton did it; Martellus Bennett did it; Joe Flacco did it; frankly, a crap-load of players figure out how to do it when they have to.
Chart that shit, nerds.
Here in Chicago, we’ve been making excuses for Jay Cutler for a long time. There is a reality and justifiability to that, mind you, and I admit it. To start with, Cuter was throwing to a group of aspirant receivers for a long while. Next was the fact that he was the most—then damn close to most—sacked QB in the NFL.
All of that is legit.
But at some point you need to tell your guy it’s time to spread his wings, wrap the rest of the team in said wings, and frickin soar. After all, didn’t Aaron Rodgers win a Super Bowl with a sub-par offensive line and a below average defense? You don’t have to answer that because the answer is, yes, he did.
Jay Cutler is now entering the final year of his deal with the Bears. And with an entirely new coaching staff in place, no one is ready to offer him new paper for the 63 INTs vs. 81 TDs he’s thrown since 2009.
Or the fact that he’s never had a seasonal passer rating in Chicago higher than any of his three seasons with the Broncos, when he was working toward earning a starting job, justifying his place in the NFL and ultimately getting a payday.
Now that Marc Trestman—the so-called QB whisperer—is in town, and now that Cutler’s entering a contract year, and now that he has an upgrade at left tackle, and now that he has a real receiving threat at tight end and wide receiver … well, must I continue?
The time is now for Jay Cutler to become the elite passer his talent says he can be and his intangibles say he will never be.
The Chicago Bears have absolutely zero reason to extend Jay Cutler right now, and I can promise you they won’t do it. Some might say they’re taking a risk doing so; using Flacco as a comparison in terms of what a pro-active Super Bowl check is worth.
But Cutler is far more talented than Flacco. Should he go on to win a Super Bowl in 2013, he will be worth every penny and a handful of silver shekels to boot.
My plea? See how Cutler responds to this 2013 contract year before committing my Bears to anymore misery than need be. My hope is that championship depression will soon turn to delight.
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