Playing the “Jay Game”

One of the many reasons why football fascinates me is that it’s a game of adjustments. No one game is ever quite the same. Whether its playing in a domed stadium, playing on artificial turf, or trying to take a star receiver or running back out of the game without cutting the rest of the team loose, it’s an endless litany of move and counter move. It’s not a question of who plays the best. Its a question of who plays the best week to week under all conditions. And, like with most of life, accepting and covering for your own weakness are a big part of it.

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune quoted Charles Woodson after Thursday’s game in what have been the statement of the week describing Bears quarterback Jay Cutler:

“‘It’s the same old Jay,’ Packers cornerback Charles Woodson told ESPN.”

“Now would be a good time for Bears fans to tell [Bears quarterback] quarterback to please, please, please tone it down.”

Yeah, that’s not something we can do. But maybe the Bears better to find someone who can.

Cutler was caught yelling at left tackle J’Marcus Webb Thursday on camera. It was one of many such incidents that night. He didn’t seem very repentent. Via Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times

“‘I care about this,’ Cutler said of the incident with Webb. ‘This isn’t just a hobby for me. If we’re  not doing things the right way, I’m going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn’t care then they better get someone else.'”

Yes. I’m sure Webb and the rest of those bums aren’t constantly berating teammates on national television because they don’t care. That explains everything.

Image from the Chicago Tribune.



Cutler is being savaged in the media and justifiably so. But having said that, it may be time for the Bears and their fans to accept some reality. We knew from the first that Cutler wasn’t much of a leader. He arrived here after basically quitting on the Broncos. What did we expect?

It’s long past due that, as fans, we adjust our attitudes and accept that Cutler has certain weaknesses that are simply never going away. I mean, really, is the body language in this clip from the Chicago Tribune after the game really a surprise?

Let’s be clear about something. You can’t muster up a heap of outrage and just say that this is all Cutler’s “fault” anymore. It’s now very evident that he’s trying his best and all of this emotional upheaval amongst fans and in the media only gets everyone worked up over things that neither they nor Cutler can control. Leadership doesn’t just appear out of thin air because you’re a quarterback with a thunderbolt for an arm. It’s something that can be developed but, like everything else in life, you still have to be born with the talent, some germ that gets you started and aids you on your way. If you want to play linebacker, you can learn all the moves but you have to have an essential foundation of innate ability or its basically hopeless. Leadership is no different. Hey, I admit that I don’t have the ability. In the same way, its just not a trait that Cutler is ever going to exhibit. His attitude is what it is.

After three years of watching “good Jay, bad Jay”, this is the state that I, at least, have achieved. I find that when I accept Cutler for both the player and the person that he is, I appreciate the wonderful talent he displayed in the Indianapolis game all the more. I think about how to get that kind of performance out of him more often. But I’m done getting worked up every time he yells at someone on the sideline. If the team wants it to stop, they’re going to have to take care of it internally.

And that brings us to the Bears as a team and the things that they need to do about this. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice loves to talk about emphasizing the strengths of his players and compensating for their weaknesses. As is well documented, he’s done that to a great extent with Cutler. But when it comes to this particular weakness, he’s totally failed so far. And after spending so much time around Cutler as offensive line coach, Cutler’s attitude can hardly be a surprise to him. Yet, he’s done nothing about it that I can see. Yes, of course, you want your quarterback to be a leader. But like many other weaknesses, this is something that the Bears simply have to accept and overcome as a team.

As weaknesses go, this one could be a lot worse. It’s not insurmountable. Cutler may not have them but athletes as a group have leadership traits more often than the general populace. It comes with the territory. There’s someone on this team who can step up. Preferably it will be someone who can calm Cutler down at the appropriate times and tell him things he doesn’t want to hear without fear of reprisals from coaches and the front office. Perhaps with a little encouragement from these corners, eventually someone can emerge. And given that this is the case, with his immense talent, how may teams out there would love to have Cutler just as he is?

Bottom line is that its just like anything else in life. If we want to eventually be able to enjoy a good team and a good quarterback in Chicago, it’s simply a matter of stepping back and making some adjustments.


2 thoughts on “Playing the “Jay Game”

  • September 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Tom all I have to say to this article is until I see Jay have what resembles an NFL level O-Line or heck even one that resembles a college level O-Line I’am with Jay on this whole situation. I by no means am excusing Jay like he’s perfect and never at any fault but on the other hand when Jay has time I’ve seen what he can do to defenses. The articles I have read since the game are so contradicting they make me laugh. They say Jay is this,Jay is that and a couple lines down they talk about how crappy his o-line is. People point out how he only has good numbers against crappy teams and fails against good ones. Funny thing is either people must not pay attention to the games or don’t know what they are watching. From what I see when his numbers are good against those crappy teams is the only time the o-line seems to be close to descent,against the good teams he’s constantly running for his life as soon as he hikes the ball, see the pattern here? It doesnt take a football mastermind to see it. As far as his interview goes, ask a dumb question yer gonna get an honest answer with Jay, cocky attitude or not he will give it to you. As far as yelling at omalyie part 2 bout time someone does obviously the coaches won’t do it and if anyone wonders how I would know they don’t needs to ask themselves this did you ever have to wonder whether mike ditka yelled at someone who screwed up and held them accountable or not? Last but not least before anyone laughs at about what I’am gonna say I do not hold Jay in the same light as the greatest man of our team ever Walter Payton not even close but back when Walter was getting pounded year after year behind crappy o-lines he was asked after a game one time how long he would last if things didn’t change he said he didn’t know how much longer he would last unless things changed .Anybody that has been a Bears fan long enough would remember this. Just saying something to think about next time people want to crucify Jay and Go Bears good or bad I love my team

  • September 19, 2012 at 2:02 AM

    You make some valid points. I will only say that Cutler is who he is. Time to accept him as he is, whatever that means, and handle him as an individual in such a way that you get the most out of him specifically and the team in general. That’s what coaches and front offices are supposed to do. I’ll be very interested to see if they do it and how they do it.

    Strictly as a practical matter, I agree with you that some talent protecting the quarterback would certainly help. We haven’t seen the team’s worst performance yet this year by a long shot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *