Jay Cutler can’t win. That’s what critics said when his Vanderbilt teams went 11-34. They repeated the charge when he failed to have a winning record in any of his 2 1/3 seasons as Denver’s starting quarterback. And when the Bears slipped to 7-9 in Cutler’s first year in Chicago.
Jay Cutler can’t win.
That’s what critics said when his Vanderbilt teams went 11-34. They repeated the charge when he failed to have a winning record in any of his 2 1/3 seasons as Denver’s starting quarterback. And when the Bears slipped to 7-9 in Cutler’s first year in Chicago.
They can’t say that anymore after Cutler and the Bears (10-4) clinched their first NFC North title in four years Monday.
“That’s always good to get rid of that,” Cutler said.
He’ll have to go further to get rid of his critics. He still can’t win with them. Even on a division-clinching night when he threw three touchdown passes and posted a 106.6 passer rating on a frozen night in Minnesota.
Instead of being impressed, ESPN commentators Jon Gruden, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer tag-teamed Cutler and ripped him for his inconsistent footwork.
Cutler said offensive coordinator Mike Martz is the only critic he listens to.
“As long as Mike is good with what I’m doing, then I’m good,” Cutler said.
“No one knows what we are trying to get done with this offense. No one knows my hot reads. No one knows my reads at all. No one knows what we’re trying to do with the offensive line, what we are doing with the receivers.
“You guys don’t have a clue. It doesn’t bother anybody in that locker room. We’re going to continue doing what we do. As long as we’re winning games, good things are going to happen.”
But it’s not the Bears being criticized. It’s Cutler. And it’s not coming from the professional media. It’s coming from a Super Bowl-winning coach and two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
“People like being negative,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “People like trying to nitpick and find things. It’s amazing after you score 40 points and your quarterback throws three touchdowns; they are going to put up two passes that were incomplete. It’s the media world we live in.
“We’re not too concerned with what analysts and so-called experts say. We won 40-14; obviously he did a lot right. ... There’s always going to be people who want to bring people down when they are doing well.”
But, again, these aren’t typical “so-called” critics. Gruden is the youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl. Young is in the Hall of Fame.
Devin Hester said the Cutler criticism is just part of people being slow to credit the surprising Bears.
“We get criticized if we do good or bad,” the Bears record-setting kick returner and part-time receiver said. “It’s a tough system. We’re used to it. We just have to block it out and keep moving forward.”
The Bears figure it doesn’t matter what people think about Jay Cutler as long as he keeps playing this well. Cutler has posted a passer rating above 106 in each of Chicago’s last three wins.
“We’re better everywhere, and it reflects back on what he’s doing.” Martz said. “We all share in responsibility when things don’t go well, but when things go well, too. The receivers are sharper and faster, the protection is remarkably better and he’s getting better because of the confidence in all of those things.”
Martz called it a “ripple effect.” That ripple effect has Jay Cutler (89.6) with the third-highest passer rating of any Bear quarterback in 35 years.
It also has Chicago in the playoffs.
“We’ve got one thing off our checklist,” Cutler said of winning the division title, “but we’ve got to continue on.”
So does he.
Rockford (Ill.) Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.