By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS)— It was over, all of it. Twitter said so.
Jay Cutler’s first interception lit the fuse on the powder-keg a city has been loading for a week, and the second pick exploded it, as searing emotional shrapnel ripped the air, turning timelines to tatters. Snap judgments knew no bounds, with no enormity of consequence unaddressed.
Points proven, positions validated, notarized and rubber-stamped.
Via social media, in email inboxes, and in the buzzes, bloops and dings of text messages flying instantaneously in invisible swarms, conclusions begat others. These certainties marched toward apocalypse after two bad Cutler passes, declaring the beginning of his end in Chicago, and eventually envisioning the toppling of Marc Trestman – his credibility destroyed by misplaced trust in this widely reviled football antihero. How could he not know what everybody else understood to be the gospel truth: that Cutler couldn’t be trusted to suppress his instincts for taking unnecessary risks?
Any playoff chances down the toilet, entirely due to Trestman’s unforgivable myopia and stubbornness, in supporting someone so destined to break hearts. He chose to cast aside a revelation from the heavens, a gift from football gods, only to revisit familiar turbulence and angst. All the chest-pain is his fault, now, when the wisdom of the prevailing winds had known better.
“There!” Twitter roared.
And Phil Emery! Not only did he back the continued commitment to Cutler, ignorant of the glories of the anointed back-up, but recent rumblings from Halas Hall indicated that his first preference is to negotiate an extension with this guy. Add in today’s CBS report that a shortsighted structuring of Josh McCown’s contract means it will be impossible for the Bears to offer even the smallest raise – virtually assuring his exit – and that’s enough of Emery, too. Done with him, then, say bursts of characters beside pictures of eggs.
After the second interception, Jay Cutler completed 14 of 18 passes for three touchdowns. He finished 22 for 31 for 265 yards and a passer-efficiency rating of 102.2, his third-best such number of the season, coming against one of the league’s top ten defenses. On third downs, Cutler was nearly perfect: 11-12, 151 yards, two touchdowns and a highest-possible rating of 158.3. His team won, largely because of him.
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That is a statistical representation of redemption, albeit temporary.
Cutler’s comeback from his four-week absence started in a way that rocked the world of Bears fans and observers off of whatever fragile axis holds it true, sending it careening and panicked. He did what he could simply not do, in a way he could not be allowed to do it.
He had asked for much of it too. At his first public press conference in a month, the one many in his place might enjoy as it heralded his return to action, he sighed his way through it with characteristically smug insouciance, even taking a veiled shot at his nothing-but-supportive “friend” who had so ably filled in. Knowingly or not, he had helped raise the stakes to the point where such feverish electronic dialog was predictable.
Both Cutler and Trestman stared into the abyss today. They raced toward it first, in fact, only coming to a sliding stop at the very edge as the dirt and gravel ahead of their feet was pushed soundlessly into the unseen and endless.
That yawning, looming depth exists.
We saw it on our screens.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.