Emotional Disconnect

Dear Jay,

It’s not your fault.

Chris Ross

Leave it Jay Cutler to pull off the inexcusable, unimaginable, inconceivable blunder to start a new decade of NFL playoff football.

“As a guy how had 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game!” That tweet came from current ESPN analyst and former NFLer Mark Schlereth. Even though the grammar may be a bit off, the sentiment expressed in the tweet is one that represents the feeling of the majority of football fans towards Jay Cutler’s…situation.

People are questioning Jay Cutler’s toughness and rightfully so. I mean, how is it possible for an NFL quarterback to keep himself out of the NFC Championship game? He’s got to be pretty much dying, doesn’t he?

Jay Cutler was walking around without much of a noticeable limp during and after the game, as well as not looking too troubled by the disconcerting situation that his team was in on Sunday. Down 14 points with the 3rd stringer in and he is just going to sit there and watch uncaringly.

Just recently, I wrote a post all about the mistake the Denver Broncos made in trading away Jay Cutler. I feel a bit foolish for saying what I said in hindsight because, among a number of other things, I referred to Cutler as an emerging leader, which he obviously is not. However, I still stand by the general idea of the post because the thought of giving away a franchise quarterback is wrong.

Anyways, I’m not here to question his physical toughness despite the validity of the question because I don’t think there is enough evidence to support it. Cutler, faced a season with a brutal offensive line during the season and was under constant pressure and harassment from opposing defences. However, we did not hear too much as a peep coming from his mouth. He continued to persevere through the issues, the bruising, and the battering. He brought his team to the NFC Championship game for goodness sakes!

Jay Cutler did not stay on the bench against Green Bay because he was afraid of getting hurt or that he couldn’t handle the pain in his knee. He just flat out didn’t want to play.

Once more, I am not questioning his physical toughness, what I am questioning is his mental toughness.

Jay Cutler had an awful half. 6-14, 80 yards passing and 1 interception. With the season on the line and his team’s chances riding on his right arm, Jay Cutler was content to stay on the bench because he didn’t want the burden that the John Elway’s and Michael Jordan’s of the world thrive on. He had an excuse and he was perfectly fine with standing by it because he simply is not comfortable with everyone depending on him.

The worst part about it is Jay Cutler can’t do a damned thing about it.

The great quarterback is the olden day General. He wants to go to battle with his troops and without a second thought would sacrifice himself for the well-being of his men. The mindset that these generals have is something that you can’t acquire, you’re born with it.

Jay Cutler was not born with it. Cutler was born with a skill set that scouts drool over, but not the intangibles that the ordinary Joe Schmuck can relate to. He is not a person that is well liked by his peers as evidenced by the barrage of tweets from Colleagues around the league telling him simply to suck it up.

Brett Favre played on a broken ankle for heaven’s sakes.

He can’t fully comprehend the nature of the position and the responsibilities that come along with it. He doesn’t have the mentality that he can’t let his teammates down because he doesn’t understand how much he actually is letting down not only his teammates but the legion of Chicago Bear fans.

On an emotional level, Cutler doesn’t connect with people, which is why fans and players have not taken to him. He is often dispassionate and often seems to be detached from real human feeling. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but the fact of the matter is that this emotional disconnect is what prevented him from coming back into the game on Sunday.

Once Jay Cutler had found a reason to escape the nightmare of his poor play, he did not feel the obligation that most guys would have felt in the same situation. He just wanted to get outta there and then it was somebody else’s problem.

This was a chance for Jay Cutler to cement himself a legacy that would last for generations. An opportunity of a lifetime that kids dream about. Leading your team to the super bowl on a bum knee is the embodiment of football hero. Nah, Jay Cutler isn’t worried about leaving a legacy, being considered an all-time great or letting down his team. Something is missing between the ears that separates him from the heart of the champions.

Jay Cutler can’t help it. You can ridicule him all you want for his decision to stay on the bench when his team needed him most but it’s useless. You think you don’t understand how Jay Cutler could do what he did? Well, neither does Jay Cutler.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

27 Responses to Emotional Disconnect

  1. Good article and relation to your one about Cutler being traded. Even though he had a sprained MCL, which is pretty bad, he really looked like he had no intention or desire to go back out there. Hanie performed admirably, and the only time I saw Cutler smile was when Chester Taylor scored that touchdown and Jay thought, “Yes! Maybe if we win I won’t get picked on!”

  2. kimetha says:

    I think bringing in the fact that he doesn’t have respect from other players is so true! Nice article.

  3. blueollie says:

    Again, it may be simpler than all that; his leg made him ineffective and therefore he didn’t want to hurt the team. The severity of an injury is only partially related to the ability to play on it. On TV the announcers said that his throws were poor because he wasn’t planting his feet properly.

    Now it may well be that he doesn’t have the mental toughness; but for me, this was an injury, pure and simple.

  4. ucheedawg says:

    I largely agree with your thoughts. What has really made me upset was the fact that people are questioning his toughness. I agree particularly with the point that you make saying you are either born with that leadership trait or you aren’t. Cutler is a great athlete, but doesn’t have that style that we all love. His attutude appears poor at times, but you can’t question his toughness.

    Nice post.

  5. Another good post Chris. No one would have been questioning Cutler’s toughness if he had shown more passion for the game and the Bears almost improbable comeback. Instead he was lifeless during one of the biggest games in Bears history and his smile during Taylor’s touchdown run resembled looking at a rainbow instead of a passionate “hell ya, we’re back in this game!” I agree with you that after throwing the interception at the end of the first half, Cutler saw the writing on the wall and wanted no part of any blame for losing the NFC Championship.

    I would hesitate though to say that Cutler led the Bears to the NFC Championship game. Matt Forte, the Bears defense, and special teams largely ensured Chicago’s trip to the playoffs.

    Also just to clarify, do you still consider Cutler a franchise quarterback?

    Let me know your thoughts about my take on Carson Palmer’s trade request:



  6. Bruce Cooper says:

    It seems like we are on the same page about Cutler. I like your article on him. I think Denver knew what they were doing when they were shopping him and finally got rid of him. He was a wuss in that situation when it was all going down. Consequently, he is still the same guy. A bunch of talent but, lacks the dedication and toughness to take his abilities to the next level. Hope you continue to check out my blog at wordpress “sportswussification”

  7. Cutler has been given a hard time to say the least these last few days. What you mentioned and what other people are forgetting is that Cutler worked his ass off this year, and turned in a pretty stellar season. A huge jump from the previous one. Simply put, the Bears wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him. Granted, Hanie looked decent on Sunday, he has very little NFL experience, and Cutler led the offense during a time when he was getting sacked 9 times a game (see Giants game).

  8. The thing that people seem to be missing is the fact that Lovie Smith made the decision to pull Cutler. He wanted to keep playing–obviously. This was to go to the Super Bowl. No one should question Cutler’s toughness after he succumbed to 57 sacks, including 9 in one half of football. Nor did he bitch or throw his o-line under the bus which, truthfully, they deserved. Is his character questionable? Sure to some but don’t for a second question this guy’s toughness.

  9. tophatal says:


    Cutler ? is no more a leader than Palin can be considered to be a voice of reason ! I hear the injury actually came about after Urlacher inserted his finger into Cutler’s rectum ?

    tophatal ………. 😉

  10. bgc_HOOSIER says:


    Great article! I agree with almost everything you say. The only thing I disagree with is when you question if he can comprehend the nature of the position. I think Cutler can comprehend the nature of the postion and also he does have what it take to be a good player, but he will never have the killer instinct of the greats.

  11. Very Well Put, Mr. Ross, I think we are starting to see why the Broncos were so eager to let loose of Cutler, We have not heard the last of this story, It really puts a Black Eye on not just the Chicago Bears but the rest of the League as well, When you have a former player talking Toughness and Character. You have Problems within the Whole System. Keep in Touch. Mark D Jewett.

  12. This provides excellent insight to a tricky situation. The way I see it, the problem isn’t that Jay Cutler went out of the game, the problem is that he didn’t seem to care about the game or want to be back in. Any of the elite quarterbacks would have been following the coaches and trainers around screaming at them to put them back in. However, Jay seemed content to sit on the sideline and watch as his team’s Super Bowl hopes went down the drain. Also, the fact that MANY former and current NFL players were tweeting about Jay Cutler’s lack of physical and mental toughness magnified the problem. They, after all, have been there and know what it is like to play through injury. The fact that they were criticizing Cutler for not going into the game made all of us mad at him as well. I would love for you to keep in contact with me at teentalksfootball.wordpress.com

  13. mightymunch72 says:

    Good stuff man, a good read and much longer than mine. Lol. I will definitely look for more of your stuff

  14. Good column Chris, I hadn’t thought of the emotional disconect aspect. I guess there will always be paycheck guys and warriors. Either way keep up the good work

  15. npiller88 says:

    Good job with this piece. There is clearly an issue with Cutler’s demeanor and the way he is perceived around the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a tough guy to get along with. But does that really mean he’s not tough? Fans tend to read too far into body language. I don’t think we can reasonably assume that Cutler wanted out of the game because he was performing poorly, and just took advantage of a good opportunity to shift the focus off of himself. It seems more likely to me that he just reacted emotionally according to how he tends to react emotionally to tough situations, by being withdrawn and seemingly emotionless. Plus, if he really just wanted the heat taken off himself, he should have stayed in the game. Even if he failed miserably, everyone would give him a pat on the back for “toughness,” even though the Bears would have lost. The injury already gave him the free pass to take the heat off, whether he stayed in or not. That’s why I trust that his injury was legitimate and he wouldn’t have helped the team by playing.

  16. npiller88 says:

    if anyone’s interested, check out my take at http://theiinteamblog.wordpress.com/

  17. He’s such an arrogant guy and has yet to prove anything in the NFL. He has one playoff win for his career and stats that are nothing to write home about. He’s the Peter Pan of the NFL…http://meatlockersports.com/2011/01/25/even-caleb-hanie-knows-he-is-better-than-cutler/

  18. ctgobucks says:

    Good read.
    I just find it hard to imagine that after all the games in which Cutler takes a pounding, he chooses this as the time to suddenly become a wimp. Then again, there may only be one quarterback whom this could happen to, or at least draw the criticism that he has, and that QB is Jay Cutler.
    It’s hard to even imagine what his mindset was. His first big shot, something I’m sure he’s dreamed about thousands of nights, and if an injury takes it away from you and sends all your dreams down the drain in one moment, you have to have an emotional disconnection don’t you? There are guys who can rally their teammates as they stand on crutches, and maybe there are guys who can find a way and gut it out. I don’t think anyone will confuse those guys with Jay Cutler, but those guys are special, and if Cutler isn’t them, it’s not necessarily a knock on him.
    Perhaps the only way we’ll ever have an idea as to what was going on inside Jay’s head on the sideline is by how he goes about his business from here on out.
    I think if there really was no way he could go back in, and that lost look in his eyes was him trying to come to grips with the cards he was dealt, then there will be big things for the Bears next season.
    If he was really trying to escape something, anything, then I think it’s gonna be a banner year for interceptions in the NFC North next season, and he goes on a downward spiral.

  19. Pingback: Jay Cutler and his problem with reputation equity | take 5

  20. tophatal says:

    Why is anyone surprised by this given Cutler’s demeanor and the way in which left the Broncos ? I mean if he hasn’t the decency to even speak with the owner Pat Bowlen at Bowlen’s request then why be taken aback by him wimping out like a child that’s been scolded ?

    As for Urlacher stating that Cutler is amongst the toughest players he’s been around in his time in the league ………. that’s got to be taken for what it’s worth a …….. complete crock of s_it ! Urlacher’s greatest achievement to date might’ve been the fact that he’s nailed Paris Hilton and his IQ might well be actually higher than hers.

    tophatal ……………….

  21. Uncle Popov says:

    i do not have much to add to the conversation. just wanted to honor your request to check out your site (and article on Cutler). i can see the mental toughness issue, but also wonder how can he not be mentally tough given that he played at Vanderbilt (11 wins in all) and had a tough season in the pocket (sacks can take a mental toll). but in all, a good article and a well-stated argument.

  22. admin says:

    I think Cutler’s biggest problem is his demeanor and the way people perceive him – not a lack of toughness. I watched the Sunday night game against the Giants this year and he got crushed – 9 sacks in the first half. He had to leave with a concussion. No doubt the man can take a beating. What seems to anger people about him is the look on his face – he seems aloof. But he’s pretty much got that same look no matter what the situation is and that seems to bother people.

  23. janeyquiel says:

    I agree with your assumption.

  24. Joe says:

    Solid blog. I like you points and the way you express them. My only argument would be that he teammates seem to respect him and play for him but he has a really bad reputation among the fans and media.

  25. estevenj says:

    Your points are not valid. They are perception, based on the fact that Jay Cutler is media shy.

    Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, MJD, Troy Palomalu all left games in the same manner with the same injury. Phillip did not play on his sprained MCL in the same game — it was the following game.

    Cutler is shy and maybe a little indifferent. That doesn’t make him a great guy or a jerk.

    You’re a freaking tool and know absolutely nothing about football.

    See how that works? I don’t even know you!

  26. Nice article!
    As a Bears fan, it was defiantly tough to watch the game, but I was the only fan who didn’t call him a quitter. I just don’t see how I can. The regular season showed me what a true fighter he was. He got sacked time and time again and still managed to get his ass up and give it 100%. I highly doubt he would just flat out give up in a game that important.
    The problem is everyone starts speculating when they know nothing of the situation.

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