Cutler looms large in Bears coaching search
Will the new Bears coach be allowed to be a bigger force in the organization that quarterback Jay Cutler is already?
STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer
Jay Cutler: Problem or solution?
Let's start the conversation by asserting that a case can be made that Cutler has become too big an issue in the Bears' search for a head coach.
My goodness, you'd think the guy is Tom Brady with 3 Super Bowl victories as a starting quarterback and assorted other accomplishments. Instead, until further notice he's still Jay freaking Cutler, for whatever the excuses are for his inconsistent play.
Yet the narrative over each coaching candidate includes whether he can tailor an offense to Cutler, whether he has a relationship with Cutler, whether he can get through to Cutler and coach him and fix his mechanics.
Now, this observation is going to rankle people but a couple of Cubs situations past and present keep rattling around in my consciousness pertaining to Cutler.
Anyway, the first observation has to do with — yikes! — Sammy Sosa.
The Cubs were so committed to Sosa, had so much invested in him, depended so much on his presence as the face of the franchise.
Then Don Baylor was hired as Cubs manager in 2000. He was an imposing man, a man with a lot of pride in himself and his performance.
Baylor came to town wanting to be firm with Sosa. He wanted to limit some of the Samminator's quirks that were distracting the club and not appreciated in the clubhouse.
Baylor's intended approach frightened the front office. They didn't want to disrupt what Sosa provided the Cubs on the field and off.
Baylor had to back off. Cubs management continued encouraging Sammy to be Sammy. The beat went on.
Cutler isn't Sosa. Not as overtly he isn't, anyway. But he has been entitled by the Bears to clash with offensive coordinators while being awarded his personal quarterbacks coach, wide receiver and license to annoy.
So, will the Bears' next head coach be empowered to be a bigger force within the organization than Cutler is and to draw the quarterback into his program rather than vice versa?
It's the first question a coaching candidate should ask Bears general manager Phil Emery during an interview.
The second observation is the comparison of Jay Cutler to starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, whom the Cubs recently signed to a $56 million free-agent contract.
As they warm up before a game, Jackson and Cutler each impresses with his arm, his physique and his prospects.
Even in games Jackson and Cutler will do things that make you go "Wow!" and lead you to believe they'll repeat them on every throw in every outing.
But they don't. They build spectators up only to let them back down. Mostly they leave everybody wanting more.
Questions linger over whether Cutler and Jackson are the best of what you see of them or the worst or something between.
So, should the Cubs have given Jackson all that money based on what they're guessing him to be?
Meanwhile, should the Bears give Cutler a big contract based on what they still can only be guessing he will be?
More relevant at the moment, should the Bears place so much weight evaluating coaching candidates on whether they can coexist with Cutler?
If the next Bill Belichick is available but doesn't believe in Cutler the way Bears management does, should he be disqualified from consideration?
Seriously, it just seems that Jay Cutler has become another complication in a process that is complicated enough.
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