How Jay Cutler Became One of the Most Heavily Criticized Quarterbacks in the NFL
By David Perez
Stephen A. Smith couldn’t take it anymore.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was the topic of debate and a day after an interview with his former teammate Brandon Marshall the ESPN analyst spoke his mind.
“I’ve said he’s a loser and I stand by it. It ain’t because of his ability, it’s because he doesn’t give a damn and to me that’s what losers are truly made of.”
As derogatory as Smith’s comments were Jay Cutler’s recent performances have been heavily criticized by analysts across the country. Both print writers and television personalities have been vocal in their opinions that Jay Cutler has become a “100 million dollar flop”.
“The thing that hurts Cutler, and it’s something that is used against him, is the body language,” Will Manso a sports reporter who covers the NFL said. “Cutler has probably the worst body language of any quarterback in the NFL, I mean when he makes a mistake he seems to pout with his face and his attitude on the bench. He is almost sitting there like he doesn’t care.”
Jay Cutler hasn’t always been criticized, however, while at Vanderbilt University Cutler was hailed as a superstar and team leader. As a senior the Indiana native threw for over 3000 yards and 21 touchdowns despite his team’s 5-6 record.
Those numbers were enough for head coach Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos, who traded up to the 11th pick and selected the young gunslinger. Once in the Mile High City, Cutler boasted tremendous individual statistics, ranking second in the NFL in passing yards during just his second season in the league.
After three successful seasons in Denver the perennial contender Chicago Bears came knocking on the Broncos’ door. In 2009 the Bears gave up three draft picks and veteran Kyle Orton in order to acquire Cutler, in hopes that the young quarterback could push them over the edge to a title.
At the time Chicago’s defense was among the best in the NFL. With veterans Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs the Bears advanced to the NFC Championship game in 2011. What happened in that matchup, however, wasn’t a trip to the Super Bowl but instead the game where Cutler’s lackadaisical body language became exposed.
In the first half Jay Cutler and the Bears were struggling, down two touchdowns on a first down with 42 seconds remaining. Looking for a late score, Cutler launched a ball deep into the end zone that ended up being intercepted by Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields. Although Cutler appeared to walk back to the sideline without any issue, the quarterback went straight to the locker room with an apparent knee injury.
Once the second half of play began Cutler was the man under center. But after an incomplete pass on third down ended Chicago’s possession, Jay Cutler never came back to the game.
To Bears fans this was a shocking development. It seemed inconceivable that in a championship game a star quarterback could hold himself out with an injury that seemed minor on the surface.
Once Cutler was out of the game hope seemed to be lost. Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie stepped in and despite putting forth a nice effort was unable to keep the Bears season alive. As bad as the loss was though nothing compared to the firestorm Jay Cutler faced afterward.
Despite the damaged knee, media outlets as well as fans everywhere laid down the hammer with heavy criticism towards Cutler. The real problem though may not have lied in the injury for Chicago fans, but rather in the quarterback’s body language. Rather then moving around and trying to loosen up his knee Cutler elected to sit around for the most part and watch the game.
This situation was one of the first times Cutler’s attitude was thrust into the spotlight and after this instance he was never perceived the same way. The days in which he was being hailed as the quarterback for Vanderbilt or praised as the savior in Chicago seemed long gone. The idea of him bringing home a Super Bowl appeared to be a fleeting thought and every move he made was now under a microscope.
In 2014, nearly every issue in Cutler’s game came to a head. During his second year under Mark Trestman’s regime large expectations were placed on the veteran quarterback. With multiple pro bowl weapons on the outside and star running back Matt Forte, Cutler had no excuses to not deliver victories. What transpired throughout the season, however, was anything but successful. In December, Cutler was benched after winning only 5 games and leading the league in turnovers up to that week.
Throughout his career Jay Cutler’s success has fluctuated. Regardless of how erratic Cutler has been on the field, however, one thing has remained a constant, his attitude. Whether it was in the 2011 championship game or throughout the whole season in 2014, the once star quarterback has displayed a careless attitude that has even frustrated teammates such as former pro bowler Lance Briggs who joked around about wanting to punch him.
Whether or not the criticism is unfair, the simple fact is that Cutler’s performance and body language leaves himself open to it.
“I know where it comes from, he’s a guy who makes a lot of mistakes he takes those chances,” Will Manso said. “His body language is never good when he makes those mistakes it makes people think that he doesn’t care and he’s open to criticism.”