Jay Cutler is taking a beating in the media right now, and perhaps by some of his teammates. He says the incident where he shoved J'Marcus Webb is behind the team now and they are moving forward.
That's great, but it seems as if—and none of us are in the locker room, so DJ Moore aside, we can only guess the reality of it—he has an image problem not just publicly, but within the team.
Cutler doesn't strike me as a guy who really cares about what others think of him, but if I were his agent or PR person, I'd definitely talk to him about this because he should care.
He should care because his actions have made his own job harder than it needs to be, as well as the jobs of those around him. He should because in order to lead people, they need to respect you on some level. Even if they hate you, they have to believe in you if they are to follow you effectively.
So here are four things I'd say Jay Cutler should work on to get things right and make his life easier.
Play Nice with the Press
I had to laugh when Cutler, having just been asked if he ever dreamed of the outcome of Thursday's thrashing by the Green Bay Packers remarked, "Yeah, I dream about getting sacked seven times and getting picked four times."
While I thought it was hilarious, and the deadpan way Cutler shot it out at the reporter was exactly what the guy deserved for a pretty stupid question, he has to learn to play a little more nicely with the media.
If he'd spent the last few years playing like Tom Brady or his divisional rival, Aaron Rodgers, he might get away with the odd snide remark. With Cutler, though, it's all crabby all the time. And frankly, he's yet to play like an elite quarterback. (We can debate what that is another time.)
I get it; the questions he gets can be insanely dumb. Guess what? Comes with the job. It's part of what he gets paid to do whether he likes it or not.
Now, some of his fans will say "all he gets paid to do is play football," but in the modern NFL, that's not true. He is a spokesperson for the league, he is a personality for his franchise and he is required by the league to take part in the press conferences.
That last part? Makes it a portion of his job.
He can be annoyed all he wants with them—as a member of them, I know I can be annoying—but he should conduct himself with as much grace as he can muster, as often as he can muster. Frankly, there are just too many stories of him treating reporters like dirt.
Again, he doesn't have to, but he can make his life a lot easier if he tries to be a little more pleasant, even on the idiotic questions.
He'd get a lot less weeks like this past one where the media saw him implode a bit and sharpened their knives. If he played nice, the incident with Webb, while not overlooked, would not have become the mountain it did.
Take Some Responsibility
Cutler says he shouldn't have bumped Webb, but he won't apologize for yelling at the left tackle. Nor should he. As Pro Football Focus mentions in their game review, Webb was not very good and completely over-matched by Clay Matthews.
He's better as a player, but is a long way from soloing Matthews or someone of his calibre.
All that being said, Cutler never really came out and said anything about his own play. He used the word "we" a few times, but have we seen him say any of last Thursday night was his fault?
It's entirely possible that he did but it got lost in the ensuing "JAY CUTLER IS DE DEBBIL!!!!!" headlines. Possible but unlikely.
People will forgive him a bad game, even a game where he shoves another player if he owns up to his mistakes.
He owned up to one, shoving Webb. But even then, not completely.
"I probably shouldn't have bumped him. As far as me yelling at him and trying to get him going in the game, I don't regret that. I shouldn't have bumped him, I'll stick with that."
Emphasis mine. So he probably shouldn't have bumped him? Probably. Maybe it could be it was the wrong thing to do in some circumstance.
Forget the media and fans, who will definitely overlook some flaws when there is accountability. Don't you think his teammates will respect him more if he wasn't just always blaming them?
Maybe he says "my bad" more in private. Even then, though, a public admittance is a lot more powerful in winning over teammates than a private one.
Especially when you have no issue publicly calling out your teammates on the field.
I can only imagine after a while, getting tagged by Clay Matthews blasting through your left tackle gets old. How the aggravation might make you grind your teeth and eventually blow your stack, maybe scream a little.
As some of you will point out, I've had my moments even here.
He had every right to give Webb crap, and probably Gabe Carimi too. I don't care if some players think you can't do that in public. Where else will he do it? Call a time out, pull Webb into the tunnel and rail him there?
No, the field was the place for that, and the only way at that point to maybe get Webb to wake up.
All that being said, bumping him was foolish, hot-headed and didn't endear him to his teammates or even motivate Webb for that matter.
Really, there's only so much you can do with Webb. He's still raw, still developing.
Is shoving him going to motivate him? It didn't seem to. Maybe that's part of the problem, but that needs to be dealt with off the field.
Cutler has a reputation as a hot head. Maybe it's an unfair one, but it exists and it exists in part because he appears to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and often, the emotions look a lot like one Eeyore might look under similar circumstances.
He's a team leader, or at least he is supposed to be. Team leaders end up with a ton of pressure on them because they are the guys who have to hold things together when the chips are down.
Yelling at a teammate can actually be in that job description (as long as you aren't sending spittle at him a la Jim Harbaugh in Week 1).
Anything beyond that will be damaging.
This goes for anyone on the field, really. Keep your composure. As with fumbling, if a team knows it can get you, it will try its hardest to get you.
Work on Those Facial Expressions
As a guy who wears his emotions on his face, Cutler gives some good photo opportunities in a game.
His expressions are rife with easily misinterpreted facial tics.
While it won't be easy, Cutler may want to try and curtail the Eeyore-like facial expressions.
This is a tough one, and really, we all have seen Manningface a ton, and every quarterback gets a look on their face sometimes which makes you wonder if they might be about to cry or pass out.
Cutler is really easy to think you can read.
Smiling more might be a way to combat it, but that also can be a trap, as we have seen players (Derek Anderson for one) who smile on the sidelines get killed.
Still, it would be good to see Cutler have an emotion between rage and ennui.
It would be better if a photographer actually caught it as well.
Ultimately, Cutler is who he is. A somewhat volatile, pretty talented quarterback who is under constant pressure off and on the field. He may not care about what anyone thinks about him, and that's fine.
However, his life might be a ton easier—and a lot fewer people might be on his back—if he cared more. As it stands, a big win or two and we won't be talking about this.
Even in that case, it would work to his advantage to change the way people look at him. At the very least, it would make his job a fraction easier.
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