As he approached the podium in his nicely pressed suit, wearing a fashionably tied scarf, Jay Cutler looked like a man about to be photographed for the cover of GQ magazine, and I thought to myself, he’s the same old Jay.
As I waited to hear how he was going to mumble and groan his way through another postgame press conference, he instead showed a side of himself that not many had seen before; a humble Jay Cutler.
“I started off rusty. I had some throws that were high,” Cutler said at the beginning of his press conference. “The guys rallied around me though, they played really well.”
The further along it went, the more honest and engaging he became.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was, with everything on the outside and as well as Josh played,” Cutler responded when asked if he felt pressure coming back this week. “But this was the plan all along, and no one really flinched in our building.”
The questions continued and honesty flowed from Cutler like few had seen before. He agreed with Brandon Marshall’s assessment that the first interception was Marshall’s fault and chuckled in agreement when he was told that Marshall said, “Jay just threw a terrible ball. That’s on him” in regard to the second interception.
When asked by HubArkush.com’s Kevin Fishbain how his ankle was feeling after the game, he responded by saying, “Thanks for asking how I feel, I appreciate it.” Not a hint of condescension in his voice or the typical aloofness that has become synonymous with Cutler throughout his tenure in the NFL.
As Cutler stood in front of the media, he looked like a guy who was genuinely relieved by the outcome of the game, as if a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.
So what does this all mean?
It could simply mean Cutler was just having an overall good day or it could be the moment-the-light-came-on for Cutler that so many have wanted to see from him on and off of the field.
He struggled at the beginning of Sunday’s game and made some poor throws that led to two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. But despite the way the game began, he fought through it and helped lead his team to a victory it desperately needed to keep pace in the NFC North.
He simply dominated on third down, completing 11 of his 12 passing attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns and did not let the notion of having a guy like Josh McCown waiting in the wings take him out of the game mentally.
As media driven as the Cutler/McCown debate had become, it was still something that Cutler had on his mind last week, and he admitted as much after the game. “I talked to (Brandon Marshall), I talked to Matt (Forte), I talked to the linemen, just to let them know,” Cutler said in regard to whether he thought there would be a riff due to him returning. “I had a good feeling about how they would react, but I just wanted to talk to them man-to-man and be like, ‘hey, if you have a problem with this, I want to know, because this is a team game.’”
As he had to sit there and watch McCown direct this offense — his offense — for the last few weeks, maybe a light did click on. Maybe he realized that this may end up being his “now or never” moment.
Sure, he could probably walk out of Chicago and make big-time quarterback money after the season is over, but for someone who has been notoriously brash throughout his career he may have realized that the best opportunity to succeed in this league is right in front of him.
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