By Will Robinson
I think it’s safe to say that I have some animosity towards one Jay Cutler. Sure, he put up good numbers while playing for Denver. He did not handle the trade talks involving him when Josh McDaniels was hired well, but he did hold the physical skills to be a great NFL quarterback. The rest of his stay in Denver is now history, as he was traded to the Chicago Bears for a slew of draft picks and Kyle Orton. Clearly, he had success during the 2010 regular season, but Sunday was perhaps the lowest moment of his career. Even if I may be biased, this next statement is how I feel after watching him play Sunday: I do not believe Jay Cutler is mentally strong enough to become a great NFL quarterback.
Calm down (Danny) and let me explain myself. Yes, Cutler did not have the caliber of offensive line he had at Denver and was in the first year of a new system in Chicago with offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Cutler still put up good quarterback numbers with over 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. The Bears made the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 2006-07 season, but the year fell apart in the second half.
Cutler began the second half of the NFCC against the hated, rival Green Bay Packers, but was pulled about halfway through with an apparent knee injury. To the viewers at home, at Soldier Field, and the Twitter public, Cutler was seen standing on the sideline and was only briefly seen by doctors, and thus looked like the injury was not serious. Yet, Cutler remained on the sideline. The reports are coming out now that Cutler suffered an MCL sprain, and had the Bears won, he would have missed the Super Bowl due to the three to four week recovery window. Maybe he was too hurt to play, but his body language and demeanor on the sideline was reminiscent of LaDainian Tomlinson a few years ago when playing the New England Patriots in the playoffs: an air of defeat and quit.
I find it hard to believe that Cutler was too hurt to play, as one of his peers played with a far more serious and critical injury. In 2007, Philip Rivers played the Patriots with a TORN ACL! Emmitt Smith played with a separated shoulder and carried the Cowboys on his back in 1993. Jack Youngblood played with A BROKEN LEG! Donovan McNabb had a broken ankle! Rivers was even asked about Cutler’s situation, and replied, “I’d have to have been taken off in a cart” to not finish the game. Cutler said the coaches and trainers told him to stay out of the game, and that he did not want to be hobbled for the rest of his life, but a true, strong player would never let anything stop them from playing in the biggest game of his career. The player Cutler was supposed to succeed played through a whole year with a bum shoulder, the next season with frequent cortisone shots, and a bum right leg with at the tail end of his career. Granted, this was before injuries were taken more seriously, but the point still stands. If Cutler had made it extremely clear to the staff he wanted back in, the Bears could have waited from playing Caleb Hanie with 51 seconds left in the 3rd quarter at the very least. In doing that, the Bears prevented themselves from using any other quarterback for the entire fourth quarter. Sure, Cutler did the best for him and his future for after football, but he extremely damaged his reputation for not even looking like he wanted to get out and continue playing. Sure, he could transform into a great quarterback within the next few years, but he hasn’t made a believer out of me yet.