Jay Cutler For MVP? What Are You Smoking?
As my friends, family, and loyal readers of this site may know, I am an unabashed Jay Cutler supporter. After spending a lifetime suffering through the likes of Steve Fuller, Mike Tomczak, Cade McNown, Kordell Stewart, Craig Krenzel, and, yes, Rex Grossman, the prospect of FINALLY! having a legitimate NFL quarterback leading my beloved Bears was one that I was going to relish. So when the echoes out of Denver exclaimed good riddance—to Cutler’s petulance, aloofness, and back breaking, red zone interceptions—I simply ignored them. Jay was my guy, warts and all.
As we all know, those echoes grew even louder once Cutler got to Chicago. The tipping point occurred in January 2011, when the national media descended on Chicago for the Bears-Packers NFC Championship game. In that moment, Cutler’s faults were exposed to the entire country on the biggest stage, and his cancerous personality became an assumption. I’ll never forget this gem from once-respected, and now joke of a national columnist, Rick Reilly, “[f]or a man from Santa Claus, Indiana, Jay Cutler is one of the least jolly people you’ve ever met.” And that was before the game. During the game, Cutler supposedly choked for a half, quit on his team based on that phantom MCL sprain, and the sulked on the sidelines while Caleb Hanie (hey, remember him?) almost led an improbable comeback. As a result, Cutler’s reputation was sealed as the worst possible leader an NFL team could have—a modern day Jeff George.
Since that Packers game, I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness, defending my beleaguered quarterback to anyone who was willing to listen (most weren’t). But how can a guy compete with the popular narrative — and smokin’ Jay Cutler?
Smokin’ Jay Cutler is far more popular than actual Jay Cutler
So you might imagine my surprise, when, come this past Monday morning, I opened up my daily internet machine to discover an avalanche of national websites proclaiming the greatness of Jay Cutler. First, it was Deadspin, who, in an article titled “The Antihero Who Looks Like a Hero” took ESPN’s Tom Jackson to task for his impromptu diatribe against Cutler’s supposed refusal to say hello to Bears staff members, and broke down through video the pinpoint accuracy (under duress) that Cutler displayed in the Vikings game. If that wasn’t enough, writers from no less than three national websites, Grantland, Yahoo, and FoxSports, all pondered whether Cutler might be the league’s MVP!
I get it. Like Britney Spears, Vanilla Ice, and Mitt Romney after the first debate, it is inevitable that the pendulum of ridicule is going to swing back and prompt us all to collectively think, “hey, you know, that guy isn’t so bad.” But MVP? C’mon Man. It’s easy to write columns proclaiming the greatness of a player after he’s had a great game. But we all know who Jay Cutler is—a uniquely gifted athlete who is equally prone to flashes of brilliance (see last week) or absolute disaster (see every Packers game). If there’s one athlete who it would be a mistake to simply cherry-pick a great game and proclaim, “hey that’s guy’s the MVP,” it’s Jay Cutler.
Let’s take a look at his statistics. In seven seasons, Cutler has never had a QB Rating over 90. This season, his rating is 81.1, which places his 22nd amongst starting QBs. He’s an interception machine—throwing double-digit interceptions in all but one-full season—and already has 11 this year. Most of those aforementioned columnists will harp on Cutler’s ability to achieve success with an (admittedly) terrible offensive line, but is Aaron Rodgers’ (the QB rating leader) any better? Ben Roethlisberger’s? Not really, and both have far better stats that Cutler. Plus, Cutler now has the ultimate security blanket, Brandon Marshall, who if you’ve seen any games this season, fights through and catches more would-be interceptions than any other player. They have great chemistry but, heck, Marshall even made Kyle Orton look good.
But beyond the statistics, Cutler, more than any quarterback in the league, is guaranteed to have 2 or 3 games a year, where he absolutely loses control of his emotions and goes off the rails. He’s done it his entire career. Even if Cutler was stellar 13-14 games, the Bears, and their fans, will constantly be dealing with a quarterback that is a ticking time-bomb. Until Cutler develops some modicum of consistency, and leads teams back from adversity, rather than perpetuating their downward spiral (which will be never), all this glorification needs to stop. Cutler is such a compelling figure because of his inconsistency, and I can only assume all these sportswriters have developed a severe case of amnesia.
But I’m happy to have you all on my bandwagon for the time being. Maybe this is the year Cutler catches fire at just the right time and throws in a few more performances like that Vikings game and leads Chicago to a Super Bowl. But just know that if Cutler implodes in two weeks against the Packers, throws four picks, bitches out J’Marcus Webb, sulks on the sidelines, and pulls a Ron Burgundy on Chicago fans, I’m locking the door and nobody’s getting off. Because we’re going to ride this season out together….all the way through MVP voting.