"I don't know, you tell me."
A phrase that can be heard at a Jay Cutler press conference.
In between rolling his eyes and giving curt responses, the phrase "I don't know, you tell me," is a point at which you know the press conference is about to end.
Not because all the questions have been asked. Or all the answers have been given.
Because the subject is unwilling to respond in a civilized manner.
Jay Cutler has been described as spoiled, smug, a guy with the personality of a doorstop.
But the one description that is sticking the most is: Jay Cutler is a punk.
In a radio interview with Kevin Acee, Matt Wilhelm touched on this when he said, "He is a punk, I'm just not a huge fan of his. He and Tony Gonzalez are the biggest crybabies in the league."
Where does Wilhelm's animosity stem from? Much of it can be traced back to Christmas Eve 2007.
What did Cutler say?
"If I could, I would say them," Wilhelm said. "But they're unfit for...radio. They're something that probably only happens on the football field or when you're extremely, extremely angry at someone."
Yet Philip Rivers is widely thought responsible for the "trash talking." Why is this?
Partially this comes from Cutler's comments about Rivers. "I’m just not that big of a fan of the guy.” Cutler continued, “I don’t like how he carries himself. I don’t like some of the stuff he does on the field.”
But the main reason for this perception is that the cameras only captured Rivers responding to Cutler during that Christmas Eve game. Rivers can be seen saying "Atta, baby" as well as "The ball is over there" in Cutler's direction.
As Eric Allen pointed out on Colin Cowherd's radio program, what the audience saw at home doesn't tell the whole story.
"What people don't realize is there is lots of stuff going on on a football field," Allen said.
"People don't know, when I'm looking at film I see some things that happen after the play because I'm looking at the film, the team's copy. I'm not gonna say what part of the anatomy that Denver's quarterback was grabbing. But he was making some gestures that, uh, weren't PG TV."
Allen continued, "One of the things that Philip Rivers is is he's one of the guys. And when you have quarterbacks like that they're OK to stand by the defense. It's like, 'Hey, you know what, this is my football team if you are gonna talk I'm gonna give it right back to ya.' And that's how he's been and that how he'll continue to be."
One part of that Allen interview stands out—the phrase "one of the guys." Something Jay Cutler might know a little about.
Not with cameras catching him bad-mouthing his wide receivers on the field. (Hopefully the kids at home can't read lips.) Not with his bad mouthing of his defense in the press, calling out his star wide receiver in the offseason, all the while displaying a healthy dose of arrogance.
The same arrogance that led him to proclaim that there was no team with a better chance to reach the Super Bowl than the Broncos.
The same arrogance that led him to tell The Sporting News' Steve Greenberg, "I have a stronger arm than John, hands down. I'll bet on it against anybody's in the league. Brett Favre's got a cannon. But on game days, there's nobody in the league who's going to throw it harder than I am at all."
That's the type of thinking that displays why he is second in the NFL in interceptions. As Peter King commented, "sometimes he forces balls into coverage that are just plain bad decisions. Check out his second-quarter throw with three Panthers around his receiver. Pick."
So, while critics question Cutler's leadership skills, and others question his on-field decisions and demeanor, I think a good place to look is at his comments to the media and his post-game press conferences.
Between eye rolls and one-word answers you have a press conference where, after a total collapse to the Chargers, you can hear such unoriginal statements as, "We really can’t stop anybody," or, "We stopped ourselves. They didn't stop us once today."
A press conference where he was asked about the Chargers chances and replied with, “San Diego? No, I don’t think so. I think Indy’ll handle ‘em pretty good."
A press conference where once again he refuses to be gracious in defeat.
Where once again he can't help but throw teammates under the bus.
Where once again he belittles his opponents.
It begs the question, is Jay Cutler a punk?
I don't know. You tell me.