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.

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