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Jay Cutler: Why His Performance on National Stage Possibly His Best as a Bear

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Jay Cutler: Why His Performance on National Stage Possibly His Best as a Bear
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If you're a stats geek like me, you know that there is a plethora of various statistical evidence to either support or deny a claim like "this was someone's best game ever" or, "he had his worst performance ever."

But in this case, it wasn't just about the numbers, it was about the promise it brings.

Face it, Bears fans—Cutler is one of the more polarizing figures in the NFL. Many football fans, including some in Chicago, hate him for his bitter beer face and interception-prone performances.

To add oxygen to the fire, he gives the appearance that he just doesn't care about what people think about him, and even worse—that he simply doesn't care about winning.

But I believe nothing could be further from the truth.  

For one thing, he has a radio show now in Chicago on ESPN 1000. He seems more aware of his body language when in public. He is a dad now, and that alone means added responsibility.

He has been more vocal the past two seasons and much more involved in the play calling and in challenging the front office to get him better weapons and a decent offensive line.

Some call that whining, but I call that leadership.

But the thing I truly admire about Cutler—aside from his terrific performance on Monday night—is that he hasn't changed who he is.

 

And I respect him for that.

As an example, despite the radio show and his increased leadership role on the team, cameras caught him walking away from offensive coordinator Mike Tice on Monday night.

Now, on the one hand, some will view that as an immature act. Or that it's Cutler being a diva again.

But I view it as someone who was clearly upset with something and, instead of getting into a heated exchange, was man enough to simply walk away until he calmed down.

That is maturity, my friends.

Sure, a lot of this is conjecture on my part. I don't claim to be inside Cutler's head or know his innermost thoughts.

But what I noticed on Monday night was not just a quarterback having a good game, but a guy who is trying to improve his image without giving up who he is at his core. And that, to me, is something to be admired.

For better or worse, Cutler wears his emotions on his sleeve. Yes, that means he sometimes appears to be pouting.

But that pouting just means something is affecting the team's performance and he doesn't like it. Unlike other players who bottle it up, Cutler lets it out.

That is not only healthy, it makes Cutler who he is. And no image makeover is going to change who Cutler is.

In other words, he is not fake—this is a genuine, honest, real person here who just happens to be a very talented QB in the NFL.

Keep in mind that it was Cutler leading the vocal charge against Mike Martz's unbalanced play calling last year, which resulted in a five-game winning streak and a probable playoff berth if Cutler hadn't gotten injured.

As to his walking away from Tice, perhaps he didn't like the play calling and was doing his best to let it be known without verbally blowing up at his OC. Personally, I thought the play calling was very good, but then again, I don't play in the NFL.

Cutler is not without his faults, of course. He sometimes holds onto the ball too long. He shouldn't have shoved a teammate. He tends to force passes into tight coverage when under pressure.

But someone has to challenge J'Marcus Webb. And who wouldn't make some bad decisions after being hit so many times and rushed to make throws?  

I also didn't like the way Cutler seemed to blame others following that dreadful performance against the Packers when he was up on that podium. But the next day, he took responsibility for his poor play.

Still, Cutler's main issue is that he is a victim of his own enormous talent. He has a strong arm and has had success, so naturally, people always expect more from him. They want him to win despite having had bad receivers (until this year) and a shaky offensive line.

Hopefully, this performance on Monday night will snowball into more good performances that ultimately will lead to the only thing that will finally silence the critics—a Super Bowl ring. 

Meanwhile, yes, there were the stats. 275 yards through the air. 75 percent completion rate. Two touchdowns. A passer rating of 140.1.

Plus, of course, the Bears won convincingly on national TV against a solid opponent.

But to me, there was more than just the win and the stats. There was a Jay Cutler who is good enough to take a team to the big prize, warts and all.

He can do it, but only time will tell for sure. In the meantime, I like what I saw on Monday night.

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