Football is the ultimate team game, but generally only quarterbacks are referred to as The Franchise.
Historically they go by names like Unitas, Montana and Elway. Recently they have been Brady, Brees and Manning.
The Packers know they have one in Aaron Rodgers. The Bears think they have one in Jay Cutler.
The difference between “know” and “think” is wide.
Cutler had the chance to close that gap Thursday night but only widened it during the Packers’ 23-10 victory in Lambeau Field.
Cutler’s teammates let him down at times, and at times Cutler let down his teammates. When things go bad, he gets frustrated and sometimes leads in the wrong direction.
Were his outbursts at offensive lineman helpful? Probably not, but that’s him, for better or worse, perhaps worse on this night.
“I care about this,” Cutler said. “I’m trying to win football games. If they want someone who doesn’t care they should get someone else.
More important, when his line gave Cutler a chance to make a play that would make a difference he couldn’t … unless you count his 4 interceptions that favored the Packers.
There was enough blame to go around for this loss. But it goes on Cutler’s quarterbacking record while the victory goes on Rodgers’, which isn’t fair but that’s life at the NFL’s most important position.
If you thought Cutler didn’t have anything to prove anymore, all you had to do was watch the NFL Network pregame show.
Four experts debated this question: “Do you believe in Jay Cutler.” Three did and one was a maybe, but just because this remains an issue tells you the Bears’ quarterback still has people to convince.
Some talented players are winners and some aren’t; some winners are championship caliber and some aren’t.
Just do it, dude, just do it.
For six NFL seasons Cutler has had the arm, he has had the legs, he has the swagger, he has had the reputation, he has had the potential … he has had the total package.
Except for the commensurate results.
Thursday night was an opportunity for reality to line up with reputation.
This is only Week 2 of the season, but great quarterbacks are supposed to win games like this in September or November or January or the Super Bowl.
Traditional rivalry … Bears vs. Packers … Lambeau Field … national television … two teams with championship aspirations …
For Cutler, add a matchup against Rodgers, who is what many believe Cutler’s skill set should translate into by now, including a league MVP award and a Super Bowl championship.
Cutler has reasons for not reaching that level yet: change of teams from the Broncos to the Bears; too many changes at offensive coordinator; poor offensive line; a season-ending injury last year.
Now, though, the Bears surround Cutler with his favorite quarterbacks’ coach in Jeremy Bates, his favorite wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and his kind of depth at running back.
So it would have been terrific if Cutler went out and quelled any doubts about him by finding some way to beat the Packers and Rodgers, who didn’t have a great game himself.
As it is, this loss could wind up going a long way toward determining whether the Bears’ franchise will be a success or a failure this season.
To say nothing of whether franchise quarterback Jay Cutler finally will achieve what so many expect of him.
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