Rozner: Cutler's Chicago Bears narrative flips with the wind
Jay Cutler threw one pass.
Just one good pass in a preseason game in 2009 -- and he was anointed.
Instantly proclaimed greatest quarterback ever to throw in an exhibition game, the cheerleading was absurd, the campaign based on one play in a practice game.
Since then, Cutler has run the gamut from Chicago savior to criminal, from hero to thief, from warrior to bandit.
And sometimes in a span of four quarters.
As much as any athlete in Chicago sports history, there is little perspective as it applies to Cutler, especially for those who offered such a warm embrace for Cutler -- sight unseen -- and now see a football player as the Antichrist.
The narrative changes with the weather, the socks flipping and flopping with the wind as frequently as a political candidate.
Reason gets tossed out a car window at 65 mph, the worship of Cutler as ridiculous as the hatred.
Rational analysis of this particular quarterback is rare, while rationalization of opinion is everywhere.
The reality is Cutler is just a guy, just another quarterback -- and a mediocre one at that.
He is not the worst quarterback in football, as one joker at ESPN was screaming recently, and he's never been anywhere near the best.
Cutler has almost always been in the middle of the pack.
He has had some great games, but even in those he didn't always play great. Even then, he was usually throwing off his back foot, firing passes into triple coverage or benefiting from talented receivers pulling down jump balls.
He has also had some really terrible games, though rarely because only he was terrible. To his credit, Cutler has always tried to win games even when there was no hope, continuing to fire while running for his life behind a wretched offensive line, or attempting to run the offense of a new -- and sometimes clueless -- offensive coordinator.
Cutler is not what you hope for in a quarterback. He is not a leader, he doesn't inspire and he is not generally likable as a TV character.
When it comes to those in charge, appearances matter, and Cutler frequently gives off the appearance that he doesn't care or isn't emotionally invested.
Among the 12 active quarterbacks who have made at least 128 starts, Cutler is the only one with a losing record (68-70), but that shouldn't be a surprise.
He didn't have a winning record at Vanderbilt. He didn't have a winning record in any year in Denver. And in Chicago, the Bears have finished with a winning season twice in Cutler's seven years.
He has started precisely two playoff games.
Not exactly impressive.
On the other hand, since his arrival in Chicago, the Bears are 0-7 in games he doesn't finish and 6-11 in games he doesn't start.
Last year was considered his best season in Chicago, but really all he did was not throw it to the other team as much as he usually does, and with expectations for Cutler at an all-time low, that was measured favorably.
But now Cutler is hurt again, and he was awful against Philadelphia while playing with an injured thumb.
Even his toughness is in question again, which is perhaps the dumbest Cutler story of all and it's the one thing beyond debate.
The fact that it happened against a quarterback playing his second NFL game, however, made for another easy narrative flip.
Cutler is now terrible again and the Bears should draft a quarterback and develop one of their own, as if that's an NFL novelty.
Sometimes the pompoms for Cutler have obscured the painfully obvious, that of course the Bears should have been drafting and developing quarterbacks ever since the moment it became clear that Rex Grossman had no future with the team.
Depending on his health and performance the rest of this season, this might finally be the end for Cutler in Chicago, and if it is the obituaries will be ferocious and forgetful.
Few will properly place Cutler among the truly average, given too much credit for his few great games and failing to remember how incredibly bad were his offensive lines, receivers and coordinators.
The truth is for all of his athletic ability, arm strength and knowledge of the game plan, Cutler -- like so many NFL QBs today -- is expensive and mediocre.
Maybe that should be his football epitaph.
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