Bernstein: Don’t Read Too Much Into Jay Cutler’s Return

By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist

(CBS) I’m not sure what Jay Cutler’s sudden un-retirement will ultimately be, but I know what it’s not — and that’s any referendum on anything that happened here over the past eight years.

It would be a silly exercise to relive his desultory and frustrating Bears tenure through some new context after he agreed to a one-year deal with the Dolphins, particularly because doing so produces nothing useful. In Chicago, we’re all almost a decade removed from the hope he symbolized on the day he was acquired, and the quarterback that joins the Dolphins is now 34. He’s also recovering from a season-ending labrum tear that was just the final injury of his Bears career, capping off a long list of torn ligaments, broken bones and concussions. Cutler may have grown wiser over time, but he got his brains beaten in, both literally and figuratively.

He’s not the same guy, is the point, for better or worse. So using this chapter as some kind of control aspect for a supposedly objective comparison would be lazy and superficial, not to mention wrong. That won’t stop it from happening, of course, so steel yourself for a flurry of retroactive assessments of Cutler with every weekly snapshot, certain to include judgments of Mike Martz, Marc Trestman, Josh McCown, Adam Gase, Mike Tice, Ron Turner and anybody else ever affected gravitationally by the unpredictable Cutler orbit.

It’s too easy to be avoided by those who make a living out of picking such low-hanging fruit so they can fling it back and forth at each other on the screaming fake-debate shows. But Cutler was what he was as a Bear, and nothing that happens now is going to change that.

Why he wanted to abandon his career as rookie broadcaster and Instagram butt-model is curious, but another $10 million never hurts anyone, even if angry defenders still do. I was actually looking forward to his FOX debut calling the Bears opener, if only to know if he could do the job.

He would have been a pretty rare case, a quarterback not known for pleasant or interesting dealings with the media deciding to join them and succeeding. Usually, we know the gregarious types who are destined to remain part of our TV Sundays and those others who aren’t, learning lessons from the likes of Boomer Esiason and Dan Fouts on the high end and Joe Montana on the other.

While the upbeat Tony Romo seemed more of a natural for the analyst chair, Cutler’s call caught most of us by surprise. As aloof, dismissive and uniquely un-photogenic as he has proved to be, it will be a reinvention the likes of which we haven’t seen. Perhaps in his return, we’ll see him choose to engage more or differently, now that he has his next job in mind for whenever the playing days end.

Still, I’ll be denied one envisioned scenario.

Kevin Burkhardt: “Jordan Howard takes the hand-off.  Gain of about three, as he’s tripped up before he could hit that hole. That brings up second and a long four.”

…Jay?”

Cutler:  “Yeah.  OK.”

(awkward silence)

KB: “Howard again, hit hard right away by Deion Jones, who read that the whole way for his second tackle for loss today. Third and about six now for the Bears from midfield, needing to extend this drive already down 10 points this early.”

(pause)

JC:  “Um … whatever.”

(crowd noise over a shot of Dowell Loggains flipping a laminated card over, then turning it upside-down before yelling into his headset)

KB: “Out of the shotgun on third down now, empty backfield for Glennon. Falcons showing blitz, now back off.  Glennon … wants Shaheen deep over the middle … throws it well behind him, and incomplete. Glennon clearly frustrated.”

JC:  “Don’t care.”

We’ll have to wait another year, now, to know what we’re going to get from Jay Cutler the broadcaster, but we knew what he provided as Bears quarterback for a long enough time and with all different kinds of teammates and coaches. It will be a fool’s errand to use anything that happens now to reinterpret it.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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