Monday night against the New Orleans Saints was the last straw.
Even an amateur’ analyst’s passing glance at the game tape would recognize a quarterback almost purposely ignoring the offensive system in which he’s being asked to execute. At ten or more moments in that contest Jay Cutler passed on the opportunity to hit an open man underneath, instead choosing to fling the ball down the field, often to nobody in particular. A week earlier Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer had Sally Fielded the locker room with tears, admitting to an act of sideline treason and breaking the sacred covenant of the locker room by admonishing his quarterback publicly.
The Saints game was a Monday night mutiny by Cutler and no one on earth could convince me the quarterback was not calculated in his futility. A week earlier Trestman had refused the opportunity to fire a coordinator well-deserving of the slow, security guard aided walk to the front sidewalk. Monday night’s game tape was an opportunity knocking too loudly. Trestman fired Cutler as Bears starting quarterback.
Why Did He Do It?
First, let’s look at the reasons he did not do it. He did not do it for any evaluative reasons; going with Jimmy Clausen against one of the league’s best defenses offers the Bears no information that can help them moving forward. He did not do it to save Cutler’s health for prospective trade opportunities or diminish his value as any team interested in acquiring Cutler’s services knows exactly what he is and would not be swayed by anything occurring over the final fortnight. He certainly did not do it to light spark into his lifeless offense. That dog stopped hunting before the kids put costumes on.
He did it because the decision makes clear publicly that Trestman is resting the failings of the 2014 Bears not on he and his offensive staff but squarely on the shoulders of his quarterback. Trestman’s decision to end Cutler’s season is both the first moment of inspired leadership by the head coach and the last gasps for air from a drowning man.
After all, how many non-kick returners has Trestman benched this season? Even as the defense has matched the grotesqueness of 2013 with an equally grotesque 2014 no player on or coach of that unit has been admonished in the open and none of the starters have been sent to the bench. Jermon Bushrod and Roberto Garza continue to be sent out with the starting offensive line even as they deliver poor performance after poor performance.
Accountability under Trestman only goes for the quarterback because it’s the only position on the field Trestman truly understands and thus is the only position he is capable of scrutinizing to the point of demotion. If Trestman were The Linebacker Whisperer or The Right Tackle Whisperer we might be ignoring the excommunications of Shea McClellin or Jordan Mills tonight.
Cutler does not deserve to be singled out. He does not deserve to be the scapegoat. He deserves blame for the offensive failings but no more than the head coach or offensive line or checked out number one receiver. Taking him AND ONLY HIM off the field is another wrong-headed move in a series of wrong-headed moves by Trestman. Even if Cutler continued to struggle over these final two weeks his behavior in the aftermath of the Kromer reveal should have warranted he be given the dignified reward of finishing the season as Bears quarterback.
Seems ironic that only week after delivering his most mature and likable performance in front of the press it now becomes possible Cutler will never deliver another as starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears.
Cutler is an easy target for the Chicago columnist and national football writer. He is also an easy sell to send to the bench because his mistakes are loud. They are large. And his well-discussed demeanor does not align with what these individuals consider proper football leadership. Cutler will be seen laughing on the sideline Sunday with a teammate. That laughing will be perceived as his acceptance of the demotion. It will mean nothing of the sort.
Does this benching mean the end of Cutler’s tenure in Chicago? We won’t know until we hear from Emery, McCaskey and the lot at Halas Hall. But one thing is certain: this may never truly be his team again.