Jay Cutler is getting a national backlash once again. With TV, radio, and online media blowing the Jay Cutler/J'Marcus Webb shoving incident from last night's Bears/Packers game out of proportion Cutler is being called everything from a bad teammate to a guy on the verge of losing the locker room. Its time to bring some sanity back to everyone. I'll start out by saying this: Jay Cutler got caught in a moment of weakness when he lashed out at his left tackle. Yelling at him to get his head in the game is one thing, shoving him is quite another. By having the cameras catch him putting his hands on a teammate it set off a firestorm and the Cutler haters came out swinging saying this is just another example of why Cutler is not a good teammate. Cutler does not have the best reputation in the league, but the media do not help it. Whether its Cutler's brash responses to reporters' questions or out of town media catching Cutler in a low point, it seems as if Cutler is in a no win situation for the majority of the media who seem to criticize his every move.
It all started in the 2010 NFC Championship game when Cutler went down with what was later to be revealed as a Grade 2 MCL sprain. The FOX cameras caught Jay on the sidelines riding a stationary bike and what they viewed as "disinterested" in the game. After the game everyone from the local media, national guys, to Maurice Jones-Drew had an opinion on what Cutler SHOULD have done instead of sitting on the sidelines in the most important game of the Bears' season. Some idiot that attended the Bears game even was over dramatic enough to burn a Cutler jersey in the Soldier Field parking lot. It never seemed to occur to anyone that Cutler attempted to come back but couldn't play as well as he felt he should. It also never seemed to occur that his solemn demeanor on the sideline could have been due to the fact that he felt helpless not being able to help his team when they needed him and he probably felt horrible seeing as he is a fierce competitor. In the media's eyes he was just a sore loser who refused to play through the pain.
Last season, the Bears were flying high and on a 7-3 start to the season when Cutler sustained a freak thumb injury after being shoved to the ground while trying to stop a Chargers' interception return. The bad thumb injury hurt not just Jay, but the Bears, who never recovered from losing their starting QB and dropped 5 of their last 6 games. The lack of depth at quarterback was glaring as the drop off in talent between Cutler and the backups was stunning. Jay seemed to gain some fans after the injury due to the horrific quarterback play that was on the field in place of him.
This season it seemed all was well. The Bears dominated in their first regular season contest and Cutler looked stellar. Spirits and confidence were at a high heading into Thursday night's showdown against the Packers. Cutler boasted the Packers' secondary "good luck" when asked if they could contain the Bears' wide receivers and it was all fun and games. At the end of Thursday's contest the mood had changed drastically. The Bears looked flat on every offensive play and Cutler was under duress constantly causing him to be sacked seven times and picked off four. After an ugly take down by Packers' linebacker Clay Matthews, in which Matthews jumped on Cutler's back and yanked him backwards, Cutler had had enough of picking himself off the ground and went off on the man who let Matthews through, left tackle J'Marcus Webb. It is commonplace in the NFL for teammates to argue or yell at each other but this time it was picked up by the television cameras and Jay could be seen dropping expletives at Webb and as they approached the sideline he threw a shoulder into Webb and walked away in anger. This set off another national conversation calling Jay a bad teammate and reports from "insiders close to Bears' personnel" that the organization was worried any continued blow ups by Cutler on teammates could cause a locker room mutiny.
Is Jay really as bad a guy as everyone makes him out to be? I sure don't think so. While he has been known to yell and scream and wear his emotions on his sleeve during games does that make him a bad teammate? Cutler said it himself in the post-game interview “I care about this. This isn’t just a hobby for me. I’m not doing this for my health. “I’m trying to win football games. I’m trying to get first downs, and when we’re not doing the little things, not doing the things the right way consistently I’m going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn’t care they can get somebody else.” Cutler had every right to be upset with J'Marcus Webb just as every Bears fan who has seen Webb's play over the last couple of seasons. The guy seems incapable of guarding anyone on a regular basis and when he isn't being a 330+ pound turnstile then he is even less capable of staying still on the offensive line and not causing a false start penalty.
Some analysts claim that Cutler crossed the line in pushing Webb and should either apologize or wreak the wrath of the rest of the offensive line. I doubt most people have put themselves in Jay Cutler's shoes. Cutler has been the most sacked quarterback in the league for the past few seasons and has seen little improvement in the offensive line around him. It seems only natural that after picking yourself up off of the turf after you were just labeled by a 255 pound linebacker for the third time in a game that you might be a little salty too. You might also look to the guy on your team who is supposed to be defending your blind side and say "what the hell are you doing?" If you look at the replays from the game, or any game that J'Marcus Webb has started at left tackle, it is pretty clear the guy can't block a snowman. He gets beat in just about every play by either getting a slow start off of the ball or just having a defender run right around him. This may be prevented if J'Webb actually took his job seriously but he seems to lack any motivation unless it comes to fast food dining. That's not a shot, that is the truth if you follow him on Twitter you will see his 11 Twitter accounts he follows are either fast food joints like McDonald's or beer brands (side note: there is nothing wrong with Goose Island). If this seems like a tangent against J'Marcus Webb, well it kind of is. Point being, most in Cutler's shoes might react the exact same way if they were getting blindsided every time they dropped back in the pocket.
The reports of an "insider" saying the organization is fearful Cutler's blow ups or demeanor can divide the locker room seem farfetched. From everything seen or heard from other Bears' players, Jay is good in their mind. Does he have some detractors in the locker room? Probably, but not everyone gets along in every locker room. The NFL Network recently started airing Sound FX: Jay Cutler, a half hour program of Cutler mic'ed up throughout his career in Chicago and Denver. While obviously not showing every instance of human interaction by Cutler, he seems like a regular teammate. He can be seen joking around with players, coaches and refs, arguing calls, trash talking with opponents, etc. Any indication of him being a bad teammate is not on display in the program but as a fierce competitor who has no problem cracking jokes and being lighthearted in the process.
Cutler does seem to have a brash personality and that can rub people the wrong way. His demeanor at the podium during post game interviews can range from joking and friendly to the deadpan look you would see at a funeral home. His response to questions can be in depth or sarcastic one word answers that could feature an eye roll or two. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but most quarterbacks in the league aren't too thrilled to discuss a tough loss 20 minutes after it happens. The media's opinion on Cutler seems to be negative when he shows emotion like he did on Thursday but Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed the same emotion to a teammate in the same game and isn't hearing labels like "jerk" and "bad teammate" being thrown around with his name today. Rodgers was caught on camera yelling at wide receiver James Jones after failing to run the correct route that resulted in a Tim Jennings interception. Rodgers, along with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers are considered fiery competitors who "want to win at all costs", but when Jay shows the same emotion he is labeled as letting his emotions get the best of him and being hot headed. Is it because three of the four quarterbacks I mentioned have rings that they get a pass? If so, then why is Rivers not seen as a jerk as well? Jay has been caught showing his emotions, or lack thereof, on camera more than those guys and maybe it’s a predetermined feeling people have to him where they just don't care for him personally.
For me, I want a quarterback who isn't going to settle for mediocre play from anyone on his team. I like the fire, I like the emotion, and I like the competitor. If that makes him a "jerk" in some eyes then so be it. I want a quarterback with heart and not a tin man looking for one.
What are your thought on Jay Cutler? Is he a jerk or just misunderstood? How much of the Bears inefficiencies on offense is on him and how much is on that horrid offensive line? Let your opinions and comments be known below.
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