By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) The Chicago Bears play no teams in 2017 that are halfway likely to sign Jay Cutler. This is the only thing more unfortunate about his release from the team Thursday after eight seasons in Chicago than the release itself.
Yeah, Cutler getting cut sucks. You haters pipe down for two seconds, and then I’ll throw you some giant sardines.
If only Cutler could suit up against the Bears and in typical Bears fashion torch the hell out of them. Theoretically, it could happen if the Bears and Cutler both make the pla- haha, I almost typed it. But I’d feel all types of eroticisms if I could witness a 300-yard, three-touchdown, two-interception revenge by Cutler against John Fox and the rest of whatever this thing is he’s coaching.
“Jay was always one of the biggest competitors on our roster,” Fox lied on Thursday. “He battled every day to get better, both himself and his teammates. He was a team guy who would offer anything he could to help the Bears. Wherever his career may take him next, I wish him nothing but success.”
Fox didn’t like Cutler, and the feeling seemed mutual. Fox sure as hell was making it clear behind the scenes that like hell he was going to let a lame-duck quarterback who doesn’t acquiesce to his retro gym coach gruffness take center in what is a do-or-die year for Fox. Every hypocrite out there who talks bad about his boss behind his/her back never gave Cutler credit for not bowing to false authority.
In his stead, the Bears get Mike Glennon, a 6-foot-7 avian creature who hasn’t started a game since going 1-4 in 2014 and can’t move outside the pocket and is getting a reported $18.5 million guaranteed in a three-year deal in which the Bears negotiated against themselves somehow. He’s not a long-term solution, and if the Bears draft a quarterback on Day 2 this year and feel ready to go with the prospect or they are again bad enough in 2017 (very likely!) to take a quarterback high in 2018, Glennon can be dumped after a year.
That still seems like more trouble than it’s worth, though, especially when Cutler was set to make less than what Glennon will get paid this year and knows the offense (as does new 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer at what would have been even less cost, but whatever).
So now the haters have Glennon, who they’ll likely soon realize is doomed because a) he’s not good and b) he has nobody to throw to while his blossoming running back, Jordan Howard, will face nine-man boxes. Good. Bears fans who dragged Cutler during his 52-52 record in Chicago that saw five offensive coordinators and three head coaches and three general managers and Devin freakin’ Hester starting at receiver deserve at least a year of supreme agony to purify them.
Cutler’s only bad human quality is being an anti-vaxxer, and half the suburban Facebook scholars who hate him probably either subscribe to that illogic or are aggressively loyal to some other conspiracy theory like it. His attitude was never an issue.
Actually, his attitude was the best thing about Cutler. Every time he rolled his eyes at the podium, it meant a reporter needed to ask a better question. When the microphone in game picked up Cutler telling Mike Martz to go bleep himself (showing emotion up by 20 with 193 yards and two passing touchdowns in the first half at the time), Martz needed to go bleep himself for whatever dumbness he was signaling in. When Cutler blew off Mike Tice on national TV, Tice should have gotten the plays in quicker instead of being a bad offensive coordinator and leaving his quarterback hung out to dry in a climate ripe to rip him and not the coordinator. Martz and Tice were exposed repeatedly as bad at their jobs here, but if Cutler disses a disliked coordinator, it’s controversial.
As for the “don’t care” crap and misconception that Cutler hated fans — which was inaccurate because it’s not hard to find plenty of stories of Cutler signing autographs at length and doing charity work away from cameras — I wish just once he would have told Chicago fans who complained about his contract to go kick rocks. The morons, local and well-paid national, bleated “BUT INTERCEPTIONS” while never bothering to note that Cutler’s career interception percentage compared to other quarterbacks in NFL history isn’t close to terrible — and ditto for Cutler’s touchdown-to-interception ratio. Just know that he hates you because you’re vapid schmucks not worth his time. Even Cutler would tell you there are plenty of valid criticisms of his play, and yet it always had to be the lazy national joke of interceptions.
You clowns who say “Alshon Jeffries” and “Josh McGowan” and still think you should be respected, enjoy this reckoning coming in 2017. Now who are you going to project your self-loathing onto? The exaggerated boogieman you’ve made the McCaskeys into? The vehement anti-Cutlerites don’t know what they’ve lost here.
“Our family will leave Chicago with great memories and relationships on and off the field,” Cutler wrote in a bon voyage that he sent to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We look forward to the next chapter in our lives and wish the best to Bear fans everywhere.”
He likely typed that with his middle fingers and threw them high in the air upon hitting “send.” And rightfully so.
Cutler was never a great quarterback here. He underachieved. He was embarrassing and indefensible in some games. Here this year or not, he was solidified as a symbol of what could have been and never was. But he’s also a product of organizational failure for a decade, not its cause.
I look forward to the immediate Bears future without him and people realizing, kind of like just after the Bulls fired Tom Thibodeau, that he wasn’t the issue. Cutler was long the scapegoat of a team that drafted poorly for years. Take the abomination of the 2012 draft, for example. It’s an organization that Alshon Jeffery couldn’t wait to escape for just a one-year deal instead of a better situation here on paper. Why did multiple free agent targets spurn the Bears on Thursday and leave the Bears in a more difficult position to draft needs now? It’s almost like marquee guys don’t want to play here. But, hey, the Bears also signed Markus Wheaton.
As the most important position in sports, a quarterback bears certain critical responsibilities, but the dead horse of Cutler was beaten far beyond necessary for years across the league, in print and on 670 The Score phone lines. It’s a relief that part is at least over.
And at the end of the day, the Bears are a bad football team — with Cutler and without. Nothing significant football-wise changes. The recognition of the end of an era overshadows a reality that maybe we don’t want to acknowledge right now.
Meanwhile, the most polarizing Bears player ever set most of the franchise passing records and never complained about criticism once. Even The Onion can get it wrong once in a long while. The bait was never taken because the most beautiful thing next to Cutler’s hair was his immunity to anyone getting under his skin. He’s a freak of nature in that regard, and it gave me great consolation to Bears losses to see people losing their minds over the quarterback’s facial expressions and audible sighs while being fairly certain he knew you were getting pissed off. The man wove a tapestry of ennui with fan opinions the likes of which we may never see again, and those who were bothered by it are the butt of the greatest joke ever pulled by an athlete. And I will forever love Cutler for it.
There’s a reason a sharp goof like Kyle Long consistently went to bat for a guy most found unlovable.
Cutler took beatings on the field and off, always tried to play hurt, even on the car fire of last season, but will forever be tied to a playoff knee tear that kept him off the field and somehow made him soft. The Smokin’ Jay memes need making. Because there are people still quoting Chappelle’s Show in earnest.
Cutler means so many things on different levels of Beardom, and his leaving is sad in multiple ways. Maybe none greater than magnifying the uncertain state of the Bears, one in which an elite free agent thinks Tennessee and Jacksonville are legitimate options and not Chicago.
Releasing Jay Cutler doesn’t fill the immediate void. It only deepens it.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.