Monday, January 24, 2011

Cutler Reaps What He's Sown

There's a lot of folks out there in the media and press conferences rising to the defense of Jay Cutler...and rightfully so.  Cutler was branded a faker and a quitter long before the game was even over, long before he was even aware people were criticizing him.  Bear players and assorted media types spat over Cutler's injuries, more the ones to his pride and ego than the ones to his knee.

"Wait and see before you pass judgement," they cried.  And they were totally right.

The news is out.  Cutler has a Grade II MCL tear-slash-sprain.  According to some experts hearing the diagnosis, they concur with the decision for Cutler to have sat out the game.

So, there you go.  We now know the whole story.  And now, I'm going to pass judgement. 

Jay Cutler is still a douche waffle.  He's a whiner, a crier, and a pretender.

You see, I thought of this yesterday, after all of the criticism came flying in.  What if the medical tests were to have come back negative?  What if he was fine, or the injury was just the kind he could have gotten treatment on and gone back in the game?  What if, after having Urlacher defending his honor to the death, and Cutler upset that his toughness was in question (while breaking down in tears), there really had been nothing medically wrong with him, at least seriously?

I'll tell you what.  If I were that team doctor, with the organization looking over my shoulder, I would give a pretty vague diagnosis that did not throw the organization's star under the bus.  Lie?  No.  Exaggerate, absolutely.

But, come on, you say.  This is America!  There's no way a licensed medical official would ever misdiagnose a patient in order to fulfill their requests, right?  And, of course,  no one in America is addicted to painkillers, either.

Look, I'm not saying that the medical staff is lying.  But, as a sports physician mentions, such a tear has the capability of being in a wide range of severity.

Dr. David Thorson, who works with the U.S. Ski team, added that trying to continue to play would have increased the chances of Cutler tearing his ACL, a knee ligament that requires upwards of six months of rehabilitation.

With the Grade II MCL tear, the usual healing time, which doesn’t require surgery, is three to six weeks. Thorson added that Grade II MCL tears are the trickiest to diagnose. A Grade III is a complete tear, and a Grade I, he said, is just stretching, with a couple of fibers potentially tearing.

Grade II MCL tears are somewhere in the middle.

“The reality is, it’s not black and white,” he said. “How do you know if Grade I doesn’t have a few fibers torn? You can’t tell it, until you do an imaging study.

So, this injury could be pretty close to a complete tear.  It could also be pretty close to a stretch and several fibers tearing.  Who knows?  

The point isn't whether or not this is being exaggerated, however.  I'm not a doctor and have no idea myself.  

The point is that Cutler has brought criticism on himself, in every way possible.  He's asked for it, and when confronted with the fruits of his discontent, he again throws himself into the victim's role.  But you can't simply erase the temper tantrum he threw to get himself out of Denver, once he heard a rumor that he might be in a trade proposal.  He did his best impersonation of Mike McKenzie and got himself out of there.

Since joining the Bears, he's been a bull in a china shop, too.  Friction with coaches, friction with teammates, and prickly exchanges with the media have put him under the microscope.  But he has consistently dismissed the criticism with a wave of his hand and a "I don't worry about it.  I don't care what my public image is."

His body language and constant sulking is obvious to even a football neophyte, such as my wife, who yesterday came to me during the game after watching Cutler for the first time in her life and asked who the big crybaby was for the Bears.  Yet, he has been unrepentant and, in fact, seemingly proud of the way he acts, letting teammates and coaches do the defending for him.

So, when you're on the second-biggest stage the NFL has to offer and you don't come through, it's hard not to expect the criticism.  Suddenly, Cutler is aware of his public image, and isn't all the happy with it.  Funny how that works.

You only need to take a look at the guy on the other sideline for a lesson in how you conduct yourself and how it pays off in the end.  Aaron Rodgers has been acutely aware of his perception in the public eye since the day he was drafted.  Yes, he has every reason to have a chip on his shoulder after falling in the draft, after spending three years behind Brett Favre, and after being painted as Thompson's best boy in the Favreageddon Fallout. 

And he has handled himself with aplomb, even in the face of unwarranted criticism, as we saw last week with Mike Florio.  He's been gracious and a professional, and when things go south for Aaron, people treat him the same way back.

Yes, Rodgers has had an up-and-down season, moments where the offense has sputtered under his control and left it to the defense to save the day.  Conversely, he's had moments of complete mastery of his craft, showing he can dominate a game.

In five of his last seven games, Jay Cutler had a passer rating above 100.  Aaron Rodgers had the same ratio in his last seven.  And neither quarterback had a day to remember on Sunday.

Cutler finished the day 6-14, for 80 yards and an interception.  A miserable day, and his body language showed his frustration.

Yet, if you look closely at Rodgers' day, he was close to being a goat, too.  Sure, he started out like gangbusters, looking like the same guy who carved up Atlanta.  But after he was hit on a rush by Julius Peppers, you saw something come off his accuracy...leading to the poor throw to Donald Driver that bounced off his foot and was intercepted.

When he was picked off by Brian Urlacher in the red zone, Rodgers' stats took a nosedive.  He went 5-9 for only 34 yards since that interception, leading to five punts in five possessions, possessing the ball for only 10:30 the rest of the remaining 23:50 left in the game.

In the end, the ball kept get turned back to the Bears, who gained more and more confidence against an increasingly exhausted Packer defense.  

You see my point?  Rodgers could have been the heel in the situation, especially had the Packers lost.  But seriously, do you think he would have taken any of the derision Cutler did, even if we would have found out he had his bell rung by Peppers back in the first quarter (which I'm not convinced he didn't)?  

No way.  Heck, Rodgers can fumble away the game in the shadow of his own goal posts, and Packer fans still rise to champion him.  But Rodgers has demonstrated so many times before he makes a mistake or has a bad stretch that he's the consummate team guy and willing to be his own worst critic that we know he's going to bounce back and still be that guy we will root for.

But what has Cutler put in that "respect bank"?  Nothing.  He does what he wants, acts how he wants, says what he wants, and doesn't apologize for anything.

If Rodgers would have left in the third quarter because he had a slight concussion, no one would have questioned his motives.  We know he will play every second he can, and doesn't quit unless he must.  Cutler might be in the same boat, but because of his antics, people don't believe it.  It colors people's entire impression of him.

In the end, Jay Cutler had a bad game and will be crucified for it.  Aaron Rodgers had a bad game and was the first player being celebrated in the locker room...and the first thing he did was give credit to the defense that rose up when he had a bad day.

If you don't constantly act like a whiny little prima donna, people won't treat you like a whiny little prima donna.  Get it?

Aaron Rodgers does.  Jay Cutler doesn't. 

1 comment:

BigSnakeMan said...

Another spot on assessment. It speaks volumes about Cutler's reputation around the league that so many players and ex-players were that quick to throw him under the bus. The contrast between Cutler and AR is stark indeed.