One inevitable byproduct of dismal, losing football appeared this week, pretty much on schedule, with a report that a couple of Bears players are venting their unhappiness, predictably, with quarterback Jay Cutler, who has inspired this sort of thing since even before he ever put on a Bears uniform.
Back in 2009, it was Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher who weren’t all that enthralled with Cutler coming to Chicago, partly because of what they’d heard or known about him and partly because a lot of the locker room believed in and liked Kyle Orton, who was sent away after a 9-7 season as part of the trade for Cutler.
So it probably should come as no surprise now that Mike Freeman over at Bleacher Report tweeted that a couple of players told him “most” of the locker room had “given up” on Cutler, not an altogether unnatural reaction to Cutler’s four-turnover performance in the 36-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Texted with two Bears players about Jay Cutler.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) November 14, 2016
Main thing they said: most of locker room has given up on Cutler.
What makes this interesting is how many players praised Cutler not so long ago.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) November 14, 2016
One of the Bears players told me that Cutler's lack of preparation "was truly embarrassing."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) November 14, 2016
Bears gonna have to do some major housecleaning this off-season.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) November 14, 2016
Just passing along what I've been told. Seems like loss really shook the confidence of players in Cutler. I mean, hell, I understand why.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) November 14, 2016
It would not be the first time even this season when frustrations with Cutler boiled into public view. Linebacker Pernell McPhee confronted Cutler on the sidelines after a catastrophic Cutler interception in the 15-point loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.
The surprise would be if feelings and bonds weren’t frayed by a 2-7 season that has seen the Bears lose two of their last three in blowout fashion and with the outcome no closer than nine points in five of the seven losses.
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But while the latest criticisms of Cutler are anonymous, support for him is public.
“No, no (truth to the Freeman report),” tight end Zach Miller said. “That's a complete B.S. report in my opinion. I think that anybody that you would put up there would say the same exact thing.”
Irritation at quarterbacks’ mistakes typically might be found on the other side of the football. But Cutler has at least one supporter on the defensive end.
“He’s a great quarterback,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “And everybody is behind him and wanting him to do well for our team. You know there’s going to be situations where the outcome isn’t what you want. But we’re still behind him. I know I’m still behind him personally. And I know our defense is cheering our offense on and wanting the best for our team.”
Cutler was elected one of the offensive co-captains (along with Alshon Jeffery) and appeared to be making an effort to lead the Bears and the offense out of the morass that the Tampa Bay game turned into.
“I think midway through the third quarter he’s still in the huddle saying, ‘All right, let’s get going. Let’s do this,’ and trying to pick us all up to rally around him,” Miller said. “We understand that we aren’t playing well collectively. We certainly didn’t do that on Sunday to help him out at all. So I communicate with him probably more than anybody on the football team, and he’s going to continue to grind and continue to prepare and we’ll be on to New York.”