Spiegel: Doubt’s Perfect Storm

By Matt Spiegel–

I fell prey to it. My inner meatball reared its ugly head as I watched Todd Collins replace Jay Cutler on Sunday.

Knowing the importance of the game, and the quality of the backups behind you, how in the hell do you leave this game? Get carried off, or not at all.

It was an emotional response, to a situation in which the facts were not readily apparent. I’m not proud of it, but I know I’m not alone. It was a perfect storm, set up to induce emotional outrage.

1) The Bears hung Jay Cutler out to dry. Allowing the word “questionable” to be attached to his status made it seem like his choice, and then every image of him on the sidelines comes under fire. “He doesn’t want it,” “he’s not even trying to get loose,” “he has no heart;” just some of the thoughts that raced through heads across the country. Was there a competitive advantage to letting Green Bay think Cutler might come back in? Hard to fathom. Withholding information from the public allowed for conjecture of the highest order.

2) There was no crystalline moment of injury, or evidence of severe pain. No cart-off moment, no crutches on the sideline, no help walking from teammates, not even any big grimaces on his face.

3) Fox did a horrible job chasing down the injury itself, or even covering the story. They were busy following the game and the expected coronation of the Packers, but how about having someone go back to look at which play caused the initial injury? We found it this morning; 4:06 left in the second quarter, incomplete pass to Olsen. Cutler is hit in the end zone by Raji and Walden, and when he gets up, he walks away from the play, stands and braces himself, looking down at his knee. A network intern could have done it in ten minutes.

4) The nature of the MCL injury, as opposed to Philip Rivers’ ACL, or any other kind of knee injury. Jay could not plant to throw, though he could walk, and stand.

5) Jay is intrinsically unlikable. Even someone like me, who has defended him innumerable times, found myself defaulting to doubt, as opposed to faith.

The sad end to the season didn’t help keep emotions in check either.

But, as his teammates defended Jay vocally after the game, along with Lovie Smith, and as news of the type of injury came out, my emotions got back in check. The brain once again ruled. I stuffed that meatball back in its place.

Lesson learned; be more careful of Twitter, and allowing the real time emotions to get out. As Jason Goff said today to me in the hallways…got to use that Twitter condom.

I empathize with those who questioned him…I get how you feel…I was one of you. But what’s amazing is the continued reign of dumb as all the evidence mounts and mounts in front of you. Really, Jason Whitlock? The day after, you still say he was “hiding behind a knee injury,” and that he “tapped out?”

Because of the outrage, even if most of it gets put in check, Jay Cutler will never live this down.

I understand the need to defend a position, and how it can make you ignore the facts. But, admit you were wrong people…I did, and quickly. It didn’t hurt that bad.

More from Matt Spiegel
  • Lynda

    I think the Bears had a super year-Thank you Bears and I still love Jay as our quarterback-he’s the best we have had in many, many years. I think so many fans were upset that they used this as an excuse to let out their frustration and stupidity! I am glad you smartened up -I just hope a bunch of ignorant fans do too!

  • tommy v

    Congratulations on being man enough to admit it. I think I saw what tore Cutler’s MCL – bad draft choices, bad game plan, horrible coaching, and very questionable calls. Everyone of those blindsided Cutler – and most Bear fans. After yesterday’s debacle, I wish the Bears would have gone 3 – 13 like everybody thought they would coming our of pre-season. On the bright side, kudos to Mike Tice for turning an old under achieving group of linemen into an average group of players. Martz wasn’t bad either when he made his adjustmentsa and Marineeli did well considering the talent he had to work with in the secondary. Is Chicago ever going to have a shut-down corner or safety? Is Knox or Hester ever going to learn that they can tackle the defender who intercepts a pass right in front of them? Are the Bears ever going to have a draft where a player is good enough to start their first year and make an impact? I know with the looming player’s agreement we’re stuck with the Jerry and Lovie comedy hour, but it would be nice at soemtime to have confidence in a team who consistently plays like contenders and not pretenders.

  • jim

    i dont if this is the forum for this but Zach Zademan just confirmed, He is an idiot, Cutler was on the side lines without crutches or ice on his knee because he didnt want GB to know he was hurt. This statement is incredulous, what an idiot!!!

  • fast ed

    He didn’t want to risk blowing the game with a knee that would interfere with the game. He did good to sit out.

  • Ron Rowland

    As a sports fan in Chicago, I simply can’t believe how fans in this city, in such a bi-polar fashion can turn on a guy like this.

    Last week we were all reveling in his four TD (two run, two pass) performance in his first playoff game. Today, the airwaves and internet are littered with poisonous language about the man’s toughness. This about a man who was sacked more than any other QB in the NFL, by a wide margin. This about a man that battles diabetes, a systemic and debilitating chronic illness and still is able to compete in the NFL. 

    Now, certainly, Jay’s play in the first half of yesterday’s game was dreadful. Granted. Bad decisions. Bad mechanics. Some of that of that could still be laid at the feet of the turnstile-like offensive line that’s compromised him all season and a batch of suspect receivers. 

    But nonetheless, first Cutler’s NFL “bretheren” then the talking-head-former-players, the local sports media and finally the “fans” all berating this man for some supposed lack of toughness is an embarrassment. All of this without considering the fact of the injury he suffered.

    As Chicago sports fans, we have proven today that frankly, we are undeserving of a winner. 

    • Mark from Sacramento CA

      No heart ?? He quit on the team ?? Tapped out ?? I don’t think so…go back and count how many times the kid got sacked this year and got up. The knock downs the TV didn’t show, etc. No, at this level of play these people are driven to compete. I still believe in Jay and like it or not he’s our QB for years to come.
      Time to stop bashing and use that energy to focus on building a decent back up corps for QB. Go Bears 2011 !!!

  • Lynda

    Ron, well said- I dont know if I am more disappointed with these ugly fans or the loss to GB.

  • norman charlie

    Tell me: would Big Ben have sat out?
    Brady had foot surgery day after game with Jets.

    You get back in there..and find a way to play WELL.

    • StupidPeopleFTW

      This ‘logic’, if you can call it that, is staggering…


    I’m really ashamed of fellow SCORE callers, fans, current NFL players & ex-players turned NFL analysts for questioning Jay Cutler’s toughness when he left the game with what now turns out to be a Type 2 torn MCL in his left knee, according to the Sun-Times’ Sean Jensen. Jay has been like a Timex watch during 2 seasons here. He’s taken a lickin’ and kept on tickin”. The offensive line has been awful from Jumpstreet and allowed 52 sacks during the regular season. I’d like to know what these players, past and present, have been watching. I’m surprised Cutler has been able to survive such a bad offensive line and a rotten surface at Soldier Field!

  • leatherhat

    Alas, the game has evidently passed me by. I just do not understand ‘new age’ fandom. Vilifying your would-be franchise QB for not playing on a injured knee makes even less sense than booing your starting QB before a home playoff game. Seems like a radical way to support the team.

  • Brad

    It’s embarrassing to associate with this fan base. I know the Cutler’s, so I may be biased, but to questions his “want to” and durability is a joke. The fact that this subject needs to be defended says everything about a good faction of this fan base.

  • bigbroncofan

    The reason there was such vile is simple… Cutler isn’t the kind of person that makes it easy to like him. He never cultivated an image where people could love him and therefore when it came time to cash the check against good will… the account was empty. Unless Cutler somehow has a major change of heart, that’s just the way it will be with fans. The comments from his coach and teammates make it clear that the Jay Cutler they see everyday is “tough”. The Jay Cutler the rest of the world sees is indifferent.

  • Lynda

    I guess many football players love to back up guys like Big Ben and Michael Vick, no matter what they did. They dont like Cutlers face? This guy has the Jay Cutler Foundation for children with diabetes, brought a so so team to first place and into the playoffs, set a record last week, left the game because the medical team told him to, did I mention he was the most sacked QB this year, yet we have a bunch of idiots not standing up for him-how pathetic. I hope these so called fans get their heads out of their a…..

  • Joe D

    Its been said by most in this comment thread – but where would the Bears have been this year WITHOUT cutler? No where! The offensive line, well enough has been said about how bad they are, and a group of wide receivers that at their BEST are 3rd receivers on most teams. Cutler got clobbered this year and yet, still set Bears records for a QB. We haven’t had a QB EVER that can throw like him. Yes, I get it – some bad decisions, etc…I’ll live with those. Tell me, how far did Manning get this year without his top receivers and tight end? And don’t get me started with all the Brady talk. A guy that is 4-5 with 13 picks over his last 9 playoff games. The patriots lost all the talent around him (and stopped videotaping other teams) and all of the sudden – the guys human.

    Lay off Cutler. The Bears need a better offensive line, wide receivers and an improved secondary. NOT a different quarterback.

  • norman charlie

    We’re talking about the NFC Championship Game, people.

    I don’t give a darn about anything Cutler-related that preceded it.

    He had to know how much he was needed.

    Get out there, give yourself some time to get even a bit more loose,
    give yourself more than a series to create a different, if less mobile type of rythym, find a way to play WELL.

    What’s with you people acting like it’s so horrible that many of us wanted him back out there? I’m not disputing he wasn’t injured, but given the magnitude of the situation, he had to make more of an effort to play through it..even if the play-calling needed to dramatically change!

    • Spoon

      He tore his knee and was sat by the training staff after attempting to go in the 3rd quarter. Everyone wanted him back out there, some of us realize the decision was out of his hands, and he was injured.

      This isn’t rocket surgery…

    • Joe D

      Even if the play-calling needed to drastically change? To what, NOT throwing? He couldn’t plant his feet to throw. Ever had a torn MCL? and again, the medical staff wouldn’t clear him. Of course, we would all have liked him out there, but luckily the teams have medical staffs to make those decisions, not uneducated fans.

  • randolph32

    Hmmm….Watching the game with ‘the Mute on’ makes it much easier to watch the game…it was obvious that he was hurt, why else would Todd Collins be in the game, and didn’t he wince in pain when he was hit in the end zone towards the end of the first half?

    Jay’s time was a generation or two ago, when it didn’t matter if you were ‘fan friendly’, because there wasn’t ESPN and talk radio in ever market of 32,000 listeners….back then it wouldn’t have mattered, only what he did on the field would have mattered.

  • Jimbo's

    FYI – the reaction to Cutler’s injury is why most of the country considers Chi sports fans a bunch of mouth-breathers.

  • Bob K

    We have to rally behind the guy… Lawrence and Zach are right, everyone was mad at the O-line and claimed he would get injured at some point… Well guess what? It happened, so let’s not act like the injury was a joke. It’s was a sad reality, so don’t kick a man when he’s down and call yourself a fan.

  • tony

    Amazing that there are still idiots out there who think Jay should have played.

    And let’s suppose he does, completely tears the MCL and is out for a year. Then the geniuses like norman would be all over him for being selfish and not knowing when to sit and let a healthy QB try and rally the team. I’m ashamed to be a Bears fan today with morons like that spouting off.

  • Joe

    I never really hated the Bears…until now. The way the organization handled the presentation of the Hallas trophy was classless. That word can also be used for all the obnoxious fans who yell during our National Anthem. For once think before you open your oversized mouths! And as for what took your starting QB
    out of the big game? Add hangover to the list.

  • norman charlie

    I repeat: Would Big Ben have continued playing..and played well?

    And please, keep this strictly related to football.

    When Cutler left, the game/season was over.
    Everybody within that organization had to do their damndest to keep him in that game (Jay being at the top of the list) so it could possibly have been won.
    And I’m not saying Cutler isn’t tough. I just would have liked to see what would have happened if he gave it another series or two. Maybe it could have led to him finishing the game in productive fashion. And yes, I acknowledge it could also have led to him getting hurt worse.
    As a Bears fan in the NFC Championship, I just wish he/they would have been more willing to take that risk.
    The fact that he started the 2nd half tells me

  • norman charlie

    it really was his call whether or not to keep playing.

  • Clark W. Griswold

    Norman Charlie “it really was his call whether or not to keep playing.” – Wrong again

  • Al in Northbrook

    Hey Spiegs, why not ask a doctor what the best immediate treatment should have been for that injury? I coach and I’ve known for years that the best immediate treatment is ICE, elevation and stabilization. Why was Cutler not sitting on the bench, with ice on his elevated knee? That is sprain/strain/tear treatment 101..

  • norman charlie

    Come on, tellin’ me if he wouldn’t have lobbied to stay in there after that first series of the 2nd half, he wouldn’t have been back out there for that next series? That last series he played was the nail in the coffin to his checking ouit emotionally…and it’s that EMOTIONAL component, hurt though he was, of ‘I must stay in this game’ that I wish I’d seen for even just a little while longer.

  • Bill From Chicago


    The problem with Jay is his nonchalant attitude. As I am standing up from my seat, gripping a pillow in my hand, with my face glued to a 50″ TV breathlessly waiting for the next play to Hanie for the game tying drive, all of a sudden the camera pans over to Jay cutler…who is in his warm jacket, sitting by himself, staring at the ground with not an inch of emotion on his face…and compared to my excitement, it was immediately clear (whether true or not) that it seemed I cared more about the game than he did. That is where all the doubt and anger is coming from. It is his nonchalant attitude…if your going to portray like you dont care and nothing bothers you, then expect the reaction your getting.

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