Jay Cutler might not be the most interesting man in the world, but what he lacks in personality, he makes up for in persistence.
Football fans might deem him a “quitter,” but if he is anything, it is most certainly not that.
After a miserable first season in the Windy City, which featured a league-leading 26 interceptions, Cutler's "true colors" were displayed in full view of one of the biggest football markets in the world.
Cutler was a "stubborn and arrogant player" that never knew when to say no. Countless games became nail-biters because every offensive snap was followed with the possibility of a pass into triple coverage or the failure to throw the ball away. With an offensive line worthy of every criticism, Cutler never took the easy/smart way out.
Fast-forward to the 2010 season, and not much has changed.
The Bears led the league in sacks allowed (56), and Cutler, although surprisingly successful, was still seen making the same low-percentage throws. With the wins piling up and the excitement of a possible trip to the Super Bowl on the horizon, Bears fans (in true Chicago spirit) rallied behind Cutler and felt as though they finally had their franchise quarterback.
As long as the team was winning, no one bothered to care that Cutler was unpredictable, unemotional and unfriendly. The best he’s ever been described is “misunderstood,” but that was fine as long as the team was victorious at the end of the day.
The city of Chicago lives and dies at the hands of its sports teams. The fans are easily some of the quickest to judge and hate on their own players, rather than defend them in the heart of adversity. We’re used to being disappointed, and it’s how we cope with failure. We point fingers, threaten violence and publicly announce our hatred towards a team or player.
Never before has this been more obvious than after the Bears' loss to the Packers on Sunday. As evidenced by the millions of tweets and Facebook statuses, one thing is clear: People think Jay Cutler is a quitter.
To everyone watching the game, this definitely seemed to be the case. He seemed fine sitting on the sidelines in his traditional monotonous way with a huge blue jacket covering the name on his jersey, perhaps in hopes that no one would notice who he was. Without crutches, a cast or doctors around him, it seemed like Jay Cutler had simply had enough.
As much as the media, the fans and the NFL players would like for this to be the case, it is just not true. Cutler is not a quitter.
He’s clearly shown, an unfortunate number of times, that he is willing to stay in games despite playing below standards. When he throws an interception into triple coverage, he goes right back at it the very next drive. When he gets sacked, he gets right back up and doesn’t change a thing. He sticks to his plan, and his plan is to play football.
For all of the critics calling him out for not being tough, you're wrong. He’s played injured, whether it’s been diagnosed or not. You cannot get hit and slammed to the ground that many times and not get hurt.
Let’s not forget that Solider Field is widely considered one of the toughest fields to play on. Many have called it the worst turf in the NFL and even compared it to playing on concrete. So don’t tell me that all of those sacks and knockdowns don’t add up.
Cutler is a tough player, and no one can deny that.
He’s never killed dogs, been accused of rape or murder or even run into drug problems, yet who has taken more heat from the press and the NFL fraternity than him? The fans hate him, the media hates him and for some reason the players around the league seem to hate him...but he never quits.
In the biggest game of his career, with every hater watching him, there is no way that you can tell me that he just suddenly decided to stop what he’s been doing for years and quit.
Instead of grabbing a crutch or cast for sympathy, he sat on the sidelines in full view of the audience and the haters. When this happened, the floodgates were opened, and tons of players and fans accused him of babying the injury, which turned out to be a sprained MCL (which is just like a tear).
So why did he do that?
What no one saw was Cutler pressuring the Bears staff to let him take a snap or him going up to Caleb Hanie and giving him some advice. What everyone saw was what we all wanted to see. Instead of looking at the situation as a quarterback who was struggling in the game, going back on the field with an injury, we chose to look at it as a player refusing to go back on the field with a seemingly "weak" injury.
It was the staff’s choice to keep him on the sidelines and not put him back in the game for a reason. If it were up to Cutler, he clearly would have gone back in there. He’s done it time and time again, with even worse statistics.
A slow start is something Cutler is all too familiar with, but that’s never seemed to bother him, even if it has carried into the fourth quarter. The staff chose to take him out of the ball game because it was in the best interest of the team.
So don’t blame Cutler just because it’s easy. He may lack the traditional aspects of a leader and have questionable passes every game, but he is as persistent as they come, and he does not quit. If he has taught us anything, it is that he will go back out there, regardless of whether or not he will be ripped apart and hated.
Bears fans might not like it, but Cutler is the face of the organization, whether it’s a sour one or not, and he did what was best for his team. He led the Bears to the NFC Championship, one game shy of the Super Bowl, which is better than anyone predicted at the start of the year. Let's give the guy a break and thank him for a great season.