Chicago Bears: Has Jay Cutler Finally Broken out of the "Soft" Stigma?

Jonathan PowellContributor IIINovember 21, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 20:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass against the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field on November 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Chargers 31-20.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Is Jay Cutler tough enough yet?

Has he shown the fire and passion that Chicago Bears fans are looking for?  Has he shaken off the bad vibes from last season's NFC Championship game?

These are the questions that continue to circulate in the Chicago football universe.

Almost ten months ago, Jay Cutler's image hit rock bottom.  After a lackluster performance in the NFC Championship game against the Bears' division-rival Green Bay Packers, Cutler left the game due to a knee injury. 

He didn't go to the the trainer's room, never to be seen for the rest of the day.  He didn't fight to get back out onto the field.  He wasn't in a walking boot on the sideline.  He didn't put on a headset to assist the third-string quarterback—who, by the way, almost orchestrated an unfathomable comeback.

Jay Cutler just stood there and did a whole lot of nothing.

Chicago wanted his head.

This is the city that witnessed Walter Payton miss only one game in an illustrious career in the NFL.  This is the city that saw Michael Jordan score 38 points to carry the Chicago Bulls to victory in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals while being decimated by the flu.  This is the city that has survived 100-plus years of pitiful Chicago Cubs baseball.

Jay Cutler was crucified in the media by fans and fellow players, yet he never tried to defend himself over the offseason.

And then the season began, and I saw something.  Cutler had the fire in his eyes. 

He was getting after receivers who ran incorrect routes.  He reprimanded the offensive line for missing blocking assignments that got him killed by a blitz.  He was even telling offensive coordinator Mike Martz what he thought about his play-calling. 

Jay Cutler was letting his game do all the talking from here on out, and his game had a lot to say. 

Fast forward to this past Sunday. While up 31-20 in the fourth quarter against his personal rival Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, Jay Cutler threw an interception to San Diego defensive back Antoine Cason.

It looked like Cason had a sure pick-six, but Cutler found enough hustle to help force him out of bounds and save a touchdown.

The Bears went on to win their fifth straight game, and it was later discovered that Cutler injured his thumb on the play and would need surgery that would guarantee him to miss most of the remainder of the season.

Cutler finished the game.  Never once did he show that he was in pain on the sideline or even mention that he was hurt in the postgame interview.  He gave credit to the defense, the offensive line, the coaching staff and then called it day.

So, let me ask you again.  Is Jay Cutler tough enough to play in the Windy City?

After his last performance, my answer would be an overwhelming... YES!