Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jay Cutler

Did you know Jay Cutler is actually 41 years old, and a 4-time Mr. Olympia as late as 2010? He's got muscles on top of more muscles. When he oils up and goes into a rip pose, veins a-popping, even Arnold Schwarzenegger nods his head in appreciation. Yet either his NFL jersey covers up a whole lot, or it seems he atrophied something awful in the last few years....

Wait a sec. What's that? That's a different Jay Cutler than the one who plays quarterback for the Chicago Bears? Well OK, then. Nevermind. Where was I?

Right. Jay Cutler. The football version. This Jay Cutler is very tough to figure out. He seems to have always been, and still is, an on-going paradox.

In high school, JC was lights out talented -- but most future pros were. In college at Vanderbilt, Cutler set all kinds of records, but his team was a sorry 11-35 during his tenure there, including a woeful a 5-27 mark against conference foes in the SEC. But Vandy has never been known as a football power. The Commodores are more like the Commosnores when it comes to the gridiron. Not good.

Then off to the Denver Broncos in the NFL draft. By most accounts, Cutler was happy there, but became upset when the mere rumor of him possibly being traded was floated by some. Though his GM at the time reassured him he was not on the trading block, Cutler, perhaps on misguided principle, demanded a trade anyway. His request was granted. Off to the Chicago Bears.

Few would question Cutler's arm strength and toughness. He can sling it with the best of them and has certainly absorbed his share of beatings (and injuries) over the last few years.

Yet all in all, his stats suggest he's a slightly better than average quarterback. While at Denver he compiled a record of 17-20. Since joining the Bears, 44-36 -- for a grand career total of 61-56. Sure, a quarterback does not make a team (unless his name is Tom Brady), but fair or not, wins and losses are pretty much what he'll be judged on.

Further, over his career, Cutler will normally throw in the 3000+ yard range per year, average about 7 yards per reception with a 60% completion rate, and toss 3 touchdown passes for every 2 interceptions. The latter statistic is not very good.

Being unflappable is a good thing for quarterbacks when things aren't going well -- to a point. But of late, it almost appears as if Cutler is bored with it all. While most other quarterbacks around the league typically get amped up after a big play -- or pissed, if something goes horribly wrong -- Cutler seems to shrug it all off, both ways. It's almost like he saying, "I'm doing my job the best I can, the results are what they are, and it's no big deal". Pass the salt.

Thing is, the Bears are in a death spiral. They're stinking it up bad. Is all this Cutler's fault? Of course not. But as the "leader" of the team, Cutler appears to be regressing badly himself. Over and over again we'll see him go into a 5-7 step drop going back to pass, scan the field, and not throw the ball. Bad things happen when a quarterback hangs on to the pigskin too long. Can it be that none of his receivers are good enough to get open time after time? Or has Cutler become dysfunctional?

Even when he throws the ball, oftentimes it's over the head, behind, or at the feet of a receiver. A 31 year old QB, that's in his ninth NFL year, should be peaking with precision when it comes to such things -- not being indecisive and throwing the ball helter-skelter like a rookie fresh off the bench. This is very strange. And the appearance Cutler doesn't much seem to care one way or the other, be it on the field or in press conferences afterward, certainly isn't helping his image.

But credit where credit is due. Jay Cutler does a lot of things off the field to help others. A diabetic himself, who requires daily insulin shots, Cutler has teamed up with a big pharma company to donate money in the cause of hopefully helping out with childrens' diabetes. Further, he's established his own foundation to assist "at risk" youths. Very commendable efforts indeed.

And perhaps the fire to win really does burn inside Jay Cutler, but he just doesn't show it to the outside world. Some guys (and gals) are like that. The emotion is there, but they internalize things and deal with them in their own private ways. Different strokes.

Here's hoping that's the case. Because if Cutler's public personna translates to his personal life, one is left to wonder how he ever got married, to a reality star no less, let alone have a couple kids. If he always showed the same nonchalant attitude regarding "performance" in his private life -- there might not BE any kids.

Different strokes indeed. Ahem.

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