The dilemma that is Jay Cutler

The dilemma that is Jay Cutler

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010
2:38 PM

By Frankie O

Hello again everybody! Frankie O here from behind the bar at Harry Carays. What are we talking about this week? More and more, theres one topic I cant get away from and thats Jay Cutler. No person takes over the psyche of a city like its starting quarterback. And trust me, were a long way from the hysteria of Cutler-mania that took over the city after his arrival here during the summer of 2009. There are 3 main factors at play here when considering the dilemma that is Jay Cutler: 1) His play. (Obviously) 2) His coaching. (Or lack thereof) 3) His attitude. (Thats a biggie) All of these things have combined to make a big mess, which has driven the team even further down and currently is hijacking all of the conversation at the bar! My take? Im glad you asked.

When he arrived here, he came with a lot of anticipation, and baggage. From the fans I talked to, they were over-the-top with excitement. In the media, he was getting crucified: nationally, in Denver (go figure!) and by a certain few media types in town here. My keen sense of bartender awareness told me not to believe the hype, at least until I saw it, and this must be one prickly dude. During his summer of love, I actually got to meet him at the restaurant and found him to be no different from most of the athletes Ive meet before. I couldnt help but tease him about the grief he was getting from 2 people in particular. He thought it funny that he had never met either of them. I thought it was funny, because from what they were saying, you would have thought they were dating.

Then the season started, and its been all downhill ever since. To the tune of a 10-12 record in games hes started and a mind-numbing 34-33 TDinterception ratio. Ouch! The result? Everyone wants his head. This guy is awful! Why did we give up so much for him? Can we get the guy with the neck-beard back? All things I here at work now every day!

My answer to all of this is simple. I think he has a ton of talent. I dont think that talent is being utilized by the very people who brought him here. That being said, I dont think he helps himself with his play on the field or how he explains himself afterward. I understand though that frustration can bring out the worst in us. But it is that old adage that it is not the tough time, but how we react to it. The scheme being used right now DOES NOT FIT HIM, no matter what everyone wants to say. Add to it that hes a human piata, and its no wonder that hes putting balls in all sorts of wrong places.
The two things that a QB needs are: To be protected and to be able to run the ball and this team has shown the ability to do neither. Nor have they shown the willingness to adapt. Cutler, historically, is a much better QB when he is out of the pocket, able to create separation and use his cannon arm. The only time he does that now is when he is running for his life. I have a feeling that none of this is going to change until he has a new offensive coordinator, head coach and general manager.

I may be the only one, but I think that Cutler will eventually show this town the QB that he can really be, on and off the field. All its going to take is someone to give him the tools to succeed and the good fortune to survive the beating, on and off the field, that he is going to take in the mean- time.

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Bulls take sober approach in draft, satisfied with steady roster growth  

Bulls take sober approach in draft, satisfied with steady roster growth  

It wasn’t an exciting night at the Advocate Center but it was a successful one in the eyes of the rebuilding Chicago Bulls.

And a telling one, from their inaction as they stayed put to select Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. and Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison with their two first round picks.

They’re not looking to press the fast-forward button on this methodical process, placing unrealistic expectations on themselves that they’re nowhere near ready to embrace.

But perhaps, it was necessary.

Trade offers were around, and the Bulls were enamored with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley III in addition to their interest in Mohamed Bamba. But the price of swapping picks, along with giving up the 22nd spot and a future first-rounder was too rich for the Bulls, according to sources.

“We’re always looking and probing for opportunity. How close we got, we don’t know,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “We looked into some things. We thought it was more than a six-player draft. And Wendell is a guy we’ve been high on for quite awhile.”

They believe they’ve opted for prudence instead of panic on a night where bold, confident steps are expected.

After a painful march to the end of an unsatisfying season and dropping a spot in the lottery, a trade would’ve been a do-good when many felt the Bulls should’ve been at the top of the draft order.

After all, so much was made of their scouts and staff spending so much time during the year to assess the top talent—nobody wanted to see all that unspoken promise result in a mid-lottery seventh selection.

“We feel we’re in a situation at this time of our rebuild that to give up assets, important draft assets to move up a spot or two, that didn’t make sense to us and the way we’re planning,” Paxson said. “We continue to talk about being patient and disciplined in how we make decisions.”

One can look at it as the Bulls being unwilling to embrace what comes with taking a top-four talent—especially with Jackson being viewed as a long play as opposed to an instant impact prospect—the word “playoffs” would’ve been swirling all around Madison and Wood for the next several months.

Or one can view it as a sober approach, that Paxson and Forman know there’s far too many unanswered questions about their core, that a slightly better-than-expected regular season wasn’t going to seduce them down a costly road.

They don’t seem to be completely sold on Kris Dunn as the unequivocal point guard of the future, unafraid to take Trae Young if he fell into their lap.

Zach LaVine didn’t play to his expectations, the franchise’s expectations and he didn’t look comfortable playing with the Dunn and Lauri Markkanen, in part because they didn’t have the opportunity.

He enters restricted free agency and nobody will know how much the Bulls value him until they put an initial offer in front of him, likely on the eve of free agency a week from now.

As much as the last 12 months were about hitting the reset button and trading Jimmy Butler to put themselves in this spot, the months of October to April didn’t shed as much light as many anticipated—hence the talk from Paxson about patience and not being in a rush with the rebuild right now.

Because honestly, there’s nothing to rush—the last thing this distrusting fan base wants to hear.

Carter can be exactly what the Bulls need—some ways immediately, other ways in time provided the roster construction is competent and not done at a snail’s pace, the biggest fear from this jaded fan base.

Having to sacrifice at Duke once Bagley III reclassified to get to college, his offensive game didn’t develop as much as it could have—and it’s not like he’ll be featured early on in Chicago with Markkanen and LaVine penciled in as main scoring options.

“As much as you wanna talk about the game getting away from bigs, big guys and their ability to score, the way the game’s going,” Paxson said. “He wants to set screens for guys. This is a young man who’s gonna fit into the team concept that we want to have. And Chandler will do the same.”

Carter had to submerge his talents and gifts during the one season he had to showcase it for the greater good. It speaks to a certain emotional maturity the 19-year old has, a sober approach to look at the bigger picture while still making the most of his not-so-plentiful opportunities.

“Wendell is still a young guy,” Paxson said. “Very few draft picks are finished product, especially in our game where we’re drafting so young. He’s got a lot of room to grow. Defensively as a rim protector, he’ll do really well. Verticality at the rim, he’s been taught really well. Smart kid, we think he’s gonna be really good.”

Hutchison isn’t the high-upside talent Carter is, having played four years of college ball, improving each year to the point that the Bulls supposedly made him a promise very early on in the draft process.

Their unwillingness to give up the 22nd pick, whether they like the perception or not, stems from their belief Hutchison can be an impact player.

“We like Chandler a lot,” Paxson said. “We scouted him early, scouted him often. He knew we liked him. He addresses a position of need. We had debates on wings and players at his position. His ability to rebound and take it off the board, those things are really valuable, especially the way we want to play.”

Paxson alluded to tense discussions leading to the draft, where one can surmise there was serious consideration about not just going with the status quo—their reported interest in point guard Collin Sexton should be proof of that—and that should come as a positive sign for Bulls fans, who feel the front office is satisfied with a slow-rolling, low-accountability approach since they aren’t saddling themselves with high expectations.

To paraphrase Forman, the Bulls are “still building up our asset base” and subtly saying they expect to be in a similar position next June.

Soberly saying winning and contention isn’t on the horizon can be refreshing to hear, but they walk a fine line of expressing too much comfort in things staying the way they are.