Two years ago, Jay Cutler pulled out of the NFC Championship game with a sprained MCL. Cutler was withdrawn from the biggest game of his career after a dismal first half against the Packers, having had shown little hope of improving. But because Cutler is such a polarising figure, his withdrawal was seen by many as a sign of weakness and a failing of character. Cutler doesn’t give himself the best press, but why is it that he should be so disliked across the spectrum of football fandom? Ok, so Cutler has a bit of an attitude problem. While at dinner with John Elway, he spent most of the time watching the television over Elway’s shoulder and paying very little attention to the multiple Super Bowl winning quarterback sitting in front of him trying to give him advice. Cutler bumping his own offensive tackle after being sacked shows a lack of cool in the moment. A lot was made of the incident, but in Cutler’s defence he does get sacked an awful, lot so someone is not doing their job in the offensive line. But in the middle of the game you do not openly confront your offensive line, you can talk to them or you can go back to the bench, just keep your cool on the field. It’s not a lot to ask. But sometimes tension does boil over, and Cutler always seems to be caught in public with his pants down in situations like that with J’Marcus Webb. Cutler, while on media probation, proceeded to have a sideline issue with his offensive coordinator Mike Tice, in which he showed both a lack of respect for his coach and his temper when things aren’t going his way.However, is this mentality issue really a bad thing? Is Cutler really to blame? If you went to work every day and got slapped in the face by the guy who sits in the cubicle opposite you, how long would it be before you jumped over the divider and taught him/her a lesson in payback? If someone was purposefully rude to you in every conversation would you do as Jesus preached and turn the other cheek? I doubt it, most people are not Tim Tebow (that is why he is so special). Most people would come back with a rushed and poorly worded retort along the lines of “Your momma is so fat that she should be playing offensive tackle for the Bears.” Cutler has been put into an uncomfortable position.
Carson Palmer complained that he was sacked too often and refused to play for the Bengals because he feared for his health. Eventually, he was traded to the Raiders and has successfully restarted his career with better protection. Cutler has never refused to play for the Bears; he may have stepped out of the NFC Championship game, but he hasn’t refused to play for a season and he doesn’t threaten the owner that he will run out his contract on the training field. Cutler wants to win too much to sit out of a game or a season. He still thinks that despite all the sacks that the Bears can win. It would just be nice for him if he didn’t have to pick himself up off the ground after every second play. Is that so much to ask?
Cutler’s personality is reflected in his way of playing. The gunslinger mentality comes with an attitude problem. All Cutler wants to do is throw deep balls from the safety of the pocket, he will scramble if he needs to and he is a good scrambler. The chief problem for him, though, is that when he is winning he is over-confident and when he is losing, it is generally because he is being sacked a lot, an uncomfortable position at best. But isn’t that the type of personality that most professional athletes have. It is the type of personality that drives them to succeed in the first place. Cutler wants to win. Cutler wants to be a great quarterback. And he will do it his way.