HAWL IN: Thanks Jay, because blame for his era goes both ways
LAKE FOREST – Thank you, Jay Cutler. No really, thank you.
No sarcasm here, I promise. No veiled shot at the guy who is leaving town. There is some genuine thanks for some of the things he put up with in Chicago.
Thanks, Jay. You weren’t perfect by any means, but you tried to make it work even as the organization around you didn’t.
You came to Chicago in 2009 to the team you said at your introductory news conference that was the one you rooted for as a kid. “A dream come true” is how you described it, yet at the same time you were realistic.
“I don’t see myself as that at all,” said Cutler at Halas Hall that day, flanked by then general manager Jerry Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith. “In this league, I think I’ve learned over my past three years that it takes offense, it takes defense, it takes special teams and it takes great coaching.
“If you don’t have all four of those, you’re not going to go very far.”
He was right. Almost too right. You can’t be a savior if there isn’t someone there to save you occasionally.
Jay never really got that here in Chicago. Head coaches switched three times – from Smith to Marc Trestman and now John Fox – and his offensive coordinators became a carousel.
Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Aaron Kromer, Adam Gase and then finally Dowell Loggains. Six in eight years. Far from fair and far from a lineup of success. Sure Jay’s attitude towards some of them had something to do with that but as the designated franchise QB, it was the Bears ‘ job to find the guy that worked with him best.
The same could be said for offensive lineman which lacked as much consistency as the coordinators. On Thursday the Bears’ official release said that Cutler held numerous Bears quarterback records, which is true. That does included the most sacks of any quarterback – 251 – during his Bears’ career. Some of his greatest hits in a Bears uniform are the ones he took in the pocket – even a true Cutler hater has to admit to that.
Both of those components are critical if you are going to give your franchise quarterback a chance to live up to his expectations. The Bears, frankly, didn’t do that and when you don’t the quarterback is going to struggle.
Oh, and the team did you no favors by keeping his injury under wraps and on the sidelines during the NFC Championship Game in 2011 as the football world took shots at the quarterback for his perceived lack of toughness. If you want examples to disprove that, see the statistic presented above.
If fans who don’t like Cutler are still reading, then here’s you part: Jay had some fault in this too. He was prone to turnovers and forced throws during his entire career with the Bears and had a knack for fumbling. He could have handled a few on-field spats a lot better (See swearing at Martz in 2011, J’Marcus Webb shove in Green Bay in 2012) and his body language needed some work.
At the same time, he kept showing up to work. Through new offensive coordinators, rotating lineman and scattered playmakers, Cutler tried for eight years to be the savior everyone wanted him to be, but it never happened.
That’s life. Sometimes your best intentions die at the whim of circumstances. That was the case here as the kid who grew up a Bears fan, was brought to lead the team to the promise land now departs being universally panned.
But again, Thanks Jay, because no failed situation is every as clear as it seems.