If Bears fans have a favorite song collectively, it has to be to Stealers Wheel’s Stuck in the Middle With You because that’s what Chicago has received so far with Jay Cutler, and that’s what they’re going to get. It’s been said time and again, but I’ll reiterate it for readers new to the site: Jay Cutler is an average to above average quarterback who was acquired at the expense of several future high draft picks. There were plenty of holes in the roster and now very few ways to fill them, but the team got the QB it wanted. How has that worked out so far?
Cutler and the Bears have no room for complaint because they all acknowledge the surplus of weapons on the offensive side of the ball this year. Fans love to blame management, but the suits got the fans their so-called “franchise quarterback,” then they figured out a way to shell out money to keep the best special teams player in the history of the game, they drafted a great running back in Forte (and overpaid him to stay), they managed to keep Urlacher and Briggs happy despite odd contract requests (pay me now, then pay me later), they signed a monster of an end in Julius Peppers, and somehow managed to acquire a top talent receiver in Brandon Marshall for just a couple 3rd round picks. The Bears did NOT fill the need at left tackle, however, and that’s what Jay Cutler chose to focus on during the game last night, taking his frustrations (7 sacks, 4 INT) out on J’Marcus Webb in front of the viewing public in the middle of a 23-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Jay Cutler is a leader in need of leadership skills, and last night put an exclamation on that point. When the Bears needed calm stability, Cutler was yelling at his center for not snapping the ball. When the Bears needed poise in the pocket, Cutler was shoving his left tackle. When the Bears needed their star receiver to get a touch or two, nary a simple pass was called. Make no mistake: the line is much to blame, Mike Tice is much to blame, a couple drops by receivers are to blame, but none of them are considered the field leader. Jay Cutler was granted one of those big “C” patches on his jersey for a reason – he is considered the captain of the offense. It’s time to start acting like it.
Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you say but how you say it”? Someone tell Captain Jay about that phrase, because it’s time he started acting a little more Captain Kirk and a little less Captain Kangaroo. The things Jay says are not necessarily wrong, but rather how he says them and who he alienates that causes his problems. In Jay’s defense: telling home fans that they should be a little more quiet when the Bears are in the red zone is a legitimate request; chastising them and throwing an on-field tantrum like a disgruntled teenager is not the way to do it. In Jay’s defense: supporting his team’s talent and simply answering the media’s question with his “good luck” comment in reference to Green Bay’s attempts at covering Chicago’s receivers was completely overblown and manufactured by the press; failing to recognize that a big city’s quarterback’s comments will always be scrutinized is a rookie mistake made by a player far from rookie status. In Jay’s defense: he was saddled with a bleeding o-line and a game plan that didn’t adapt to the situation; holding on to the ball wayyyy too long and taking the sack over an incompletion is not the way to handle it, nor is ridiculing the linemen in public and displaying obviously defeated body language in a game that was still close on the scoreboard.
I suspect Jay to be an abysmal poker player because no one shows his hand more than Cutler. He is an easy target for head games. Showing his frustration at crowd noise instigated the Packers’ faithful into a constant roar, leading to several miscommunications between Garza and Cutler in the shotgun. Showing his frustration at his linemen only made it easier for Clay Matthews and the gang to steamroll their way to Jay. Showing his stubbornness by refusing to throw the ball away only made it easier for Green Bay to pad its stats with additional unnecessary sacks and interceptions. Showing his immaturity by pouting then selling out his teammates in the postgame only makes it easier to dislike him, to not support him, and to question Jay as a leader. In short, Cutler is making is harder on himself.
“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 and not doing 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.”1
Does Cutler even realize what his quote above implies? Each sentence seems to say that his tantrums and his pouting show that he cares more than his teammates. Just because Briggs isn’t berating Jennings on a missed tackle doesn’t mean he cares less. “I’m trying to get first downs.” Does Jay think his offense line isn’t trying? Guess what, Jay? You are more talented at QB than Webb is at LT. That’s a known fact, so for you to point it out so blatantly is a sign of your continued immaturity. A leader is often the best at what he does, so that leader must act in a way that helps get the most out of the talent around him. The next time I see Jay do that will be the first time. One last note about Cutler’s immaturity is his last line: “If they want a quarterback that doesn’t care they can get somebody else.” Jay is taking what is obviously some backlash from fans and media about his junior high attitude and attributing it to ownership. Jay, the one group who actually likes you (or at least has to stomach you because they are paying you) is the Bears. They don’t want somebody else. They want you, but I’m guessing they also want you to act like a captain, not a martyr.
Ending on a positive note, the one thing Cutler said consistently last week after the media got overly giddy about the victory over the Colts and extrapolating everyone’s stats through 16 games was that it was only one game. This is no different. The reality is that both of these games resulted in expected fashion, and 1-1 is not a death sentence. There is plenty of football to be played, and plenty of talent in Chicago to make a playoff run. Rest assured, however, that true success will only come when a captain starts acting like one.
Fantasy Football Trophies – What are you playing for?captain, Jay Cutler, Packers, pout, tantrum, Thursday Night Football, Webb, yelling at line