Jay Cutler Needs to Grow Up

C Douglas BakerSenior Analyst IMarch 17, 2009

I wasn’t going to write a post about the Jay Cutler situation in Denver.
It has already been talked about a lot, and I frankly thought it would all blow over by now.
Now, the situation seems to deteriorate on a daily basis. After a meeting with new head coach Josh McDaniels, Cutler has asked to be traded and refuses to attend the team’s voluntary workouts.

Cutler is showing a level of immaturity that is rather appalling in somebody who is supposed be in the adult world and a team leader. He is basically sulking because there were trade talks between Denver and other teams, so his little feelings are hurt. And, to some degree, he is sulking because Mike Shanahan got fired.

We’ve seen signs of immaturity on Cutler’s part the past few years. His verbal sparing with Philip Rivers made them both look like spoiled children. His body language when things aren’t going well seem rather immature as well. And boasting that he has a stronger arm than John Elway? That’s beyond childish. But I never expected this level of petulance from Cutler.

There are several things that make the situation in Denver reflect poorly on Cutler and his attitude.

First, the trade talks that Cutler is so upset about involved the New England Patriots and either the Detroit Lions or Tampa Bay Buccaneers that would have sent Cutler to one of those teams, while Denver would get Matt Cassel and likely a lot more from either Detroit or Tampa Bay. McDaniels has stated that all he did was listen to offers.

Doesn’t Cutler realize that every team does this, usually in situations that don’t necessarily make in the public eye? This is speculation, but there is no way Denver was going to trade Cutler for Cassel in a straight up deal. That would be dumb. To make a trade, they would have had to get Cassel and probably a boatload more in players or draft picks. The fact that Denver did not trade Cutler means they were not getting enough for him to make the trade worthwhile, and that they place a high value on him.

Second, when Shanahan and former-Vice President of Football Operations Jim Goodman were fired (along with his son, an assistant general manager), that was a sign from Pat Bowlen that it is time to clean house and retool.

Now I am sure that Bowlen didn’t envision this signal meant the idea of trading the team's potential franchise quarterback. But nonetheless, a new regime is in town and Cutler seems to have made little effort to embrace it. In fact, he spent most of the few days after Shanahan got fired carping about it. I can give Cutler a pass on this because it would be a terribly uncomfortable position to be in, but this is the real world, particularly in professional football.

Third, McDaniels’ offense, while requiring precision passing that might grate on Cutler’s gunslinger mentality, is perfect for a quarterback with a strong arm and a solid group of receivers. And like Cassel, to me Cutler seems to perform better in the shotgun than he does under center, which McDaniels could certainly accommodate.

Further, McDaniels has proven he knows how to get the most out of his quarterback’s talents. On the face of it this would seem to be a perfect match between a young quarterback and coach. But of course that would require that Cutler be a more mature person who understood he still has a lot to learn about the game of football to take the next step to becoming great.

I have lost a lot of respect for Cutler and I now question his leadership ability. If he’s traded to another team, at the first sign of duress is going to demand a trade? Turn on his coach? Pout on the sidelines? I think Cutler has a lot of talent and could be an elite player in the league. But it takes more than a strong arm to be winner. It takes leadership and maturity.

Cutler lacks both.

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