A while back I wrote everything I thought about Jay Cutler into a single column, hoping at that time to never find need to speak on him again. I should have known better. Last week Jon Gruden opened his word hole (to call it a mouth would be an insult to mouths) and leaked out a tidbit that restarted The Great Cutler Debate in newspaper columns and on radio airwaves.
From the Sun-Times:
“I think John Fox is going to look at the body of work,” Gruden said. “They’re going to see that he didn’t get it done really with Lovie Smith or Marc Trestman, and now I’m the next head coach. I think you need to give some other people an opportunity to play. I think some of these quarterbacks get too many chances. There are good enough players out there that deserve a chance to be the quarterback of the Chicago Bears.”
“I know he has talent,” Gruden said. “But I don’t think he warrants that salary for sure. I think Chicago needs to look at getting a different leader under center.”
In all of the articles citing this quotation, it should come as no surprise to you that few if any of the journalists thought it wise to draw the personal connection between Gruden and former Bears head coach Marc Trestman. The two men not only had very obvious overlaps in their professional careers but are also known to be close friends. Did anyone really expect Jon Gruden to answer Cutler questions with, “Trestman was a nightmare. Cutler’s performance in 2014 was no worse than the rest of the organization.”
Also, who are these “good enough players” deserving the chance to be Bears quarterback? Why don’t the Browns and Bills and Titans and Jets have them? Gruden, unsurprisingly, is wrong.
The truth is I don’t care anymore.
Yes I firmly believe Jay Cutler can be successful when placed in the right offensive system. But I no longer want the Cutler conversation to dominate all chatter surrounding the Chicago Bears. Why? Because it is terribly boring. Cutler could play three terrific games but a costly interception in the fourth would restart the debate. Cutler could run for pivotal first down after pivotal first down and take massive hits (as he’s done throughout his Bears career) but one shrug after a sack fumble will restart the debate. The offensive locker room can recite sonnets honoring his presence in the huddle but one former player questioning his leadership will restart the debate.
Anything short of a Super Bowl victory will leave the “Bears can’t win a title with Cutler” door ajar. And I’m now convinced that even if Jay brought a Lombardi Trophy to Chicago many would find a way to deride him for the achievement.
The real question becomes why would John Fox & Ryan Pace want this player – so controversial – to become the focus of their new era when they don’t have to? Would releasing or dealing Cutler significantly prohibit the Bears from becoming title contenders in the next three seasons? I can’t with any conviction answer yes to that question. With the defense being several years away from championship level, why saddle your organization with a divisive talent who more than likely will not be in the team’s plans once the defense reaches that level?
This is selfish. This has little to do with actual football. Sports are entertainment and the Cutler conversation is no longer entertaining. Trade him. Cut him. Whatever. But when you’re driving down a dark road fighting heavy eyelids, you change the radio dial. My eyes are shut.