Bears

Frankie O's Blog: The People vs. Jay Cutler

Frankie O's Blog: The People vs. Jay Cutler

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
5:03 p.m.

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

It isnt a trial, but it sure feels like one. From the moment that he was injured in the NFC Championship game, people have taken sides and its the argument that has consumed a city, if not a nation. Where I work is a different kind of court, one where facts arent always the deciding factor. It is a court where perceptions rule, it is the court of public opinion. Its one where Im an arbiter every day. Short of someone breaking the law, I dont know if I have ever seen a case like this one.

The defendant is one different dude. He has taken the act of walking to the beat of a different drummer to stratospheric heights. The perception of him publicly is that he does not care about ANYTHING. It is one thing to have a detached cool about you, but past that is an arrogant smugness and that is where most people think he resides. This is an accusation that has dogged him for a long time, longer than he has been in the public eye. Why would a quarterback of his talents end up at Vanderbilt? You tell me. See? Thats how it works. You can put the puzzle together without having all the pieces as long as it seemingly makes sense. (This especially happens after a few coldies and I sometimes need to swat reality back into the face of someone who is reaching.) In his early years at Denver, we all remember the verbal spats with Philip Rivers and on-field officials and the growing perception that he was a punk. In fact, I had a QB from the upcoming Super Bowl XLV say that to my face. Its no wonder Jay Cutler has horrible body language, due to the amount of baggage hes carrying.

In an event that would change the direction of the Bears for the next generation Josh McDaniels took over the Denver Broncos and immediately decided that Cutler was not his kind of guy and promptly traded him to the highest bidder, your, Chicago Bears. Who won in that transaction is still up for debate. That McDaniels has since been proven to have his own issues and was in way over his head has not benefitted Cutler at all. The public PERCEPTION of that time, that Cutler threw a hissie when he became aware of McDaniels shopping of his talents, and in diva-like fashion demanded to get out of town, has remained. Although I would ask, how would you have reacted if the young genius decided he could do better than you as soon as he walked in the door? Thought so. Interestingly, I rarely hear about the comments that Cutler supposedly made comparing himself in a more than positive light to Denver icon John Elway before he ever played a game there. Unless, that is, Im talking to a Broncos fan, their venom is in no short supply.

The trade created an euphoria amongst Bears fans, for they finally, after generations of waiting, had their franchise QB. The Summer of Cutler was as fun as it got without winning a game. Hope truly sprung eternal, and the sky was the limit. I sold a ton of Bears kool-aid at the bar and the faithful wanted even more. Then, unfortunately, the season began. Talk about a buzz-kill, its not easy throwing 26 interceptions in the NFL, but it wasnt that god-awful amount of picks that was the worst thing. Yeah, there was something worse! It was media Jay. I have never in my life seen someone whos every move and reaction got picked apart for evaluation by the masses. That being said, I dont know any athlete who has ever repeatedly looked worse. You can not say Jay Cutler without talking about his body language. On the field it looks bad, in a press conference or on TV it looks ten times more so, with a smirk added for good measure. Whether it is intended or not doesnt matter. Whether he can control it or not, at this point, does not matter either. Its there for all to see and has become a focal point for all of his bashers, of which there is a large number, with their ranks growing every day. I always thought that the Denver folks were a little over-the-top bitter about him, but after watching for a while, you could begin to understand.

But as always, performance has a way to smooth out ones rough edges. Am I right Ben Roethlisberger? If you win, your packagebaggage becomes a little more tolerable and if you win big, it can almost be accepted. Thats just Jay being Jay. I teased Bear fans all week, even the few I saw sporting his jersey, that all it took was a playoff win for everyone to begin to accept him. But even the ones wearing the jersey would admit doing so in public was a full-time job. I would imagine only wearing an Eagles 7 Mike Vick jersey would be more work, unless that is you could find a 32 O.J. Simpson Bills retro.

Better or worse, he was the QB for this town, leading the Bears into the biggest game ever played in this city. Any analysis of the game and its outcome always depended on what would be considered the games wild-card factor and that was the play of Cutler. It wasnt quite the good Rex-bad Rex of 2006, but is really close, although, from his play in the game it was difficult to tell any difference in the two Indiana natives. For any number of reasons his play was not good. But as we all know, that is not what we will remember about this game. Our lasting image will be of him sitting on the sidelines, looking like he would rather be anywhere else.

The debate over his injury and his ability to deal with it, although unfair in many ways, is one that will be had because he is the on-field leader of a team that was playing for a berth in the Super Bowl. If you want to be the man, and get paid like one, you better be able to deal with what comes your way like one. Having Deion Sanders question Cutler, when he never made a tackle in his life, is a joke. But who takes Prime seriously anyway? Hes paid to be a TV funnyman these days, sitting next to his old White House roommate Michael Irvin, trading NFL yuck-yucks. And Jason Whitlock? Honestly?! Seems to me hes trying to fill the void left by the absence of the former Sun Times columnist as someone who will only type inflammatory comments. At least Jay could write. This being said, there are many questions that need to be answered about the injury and how it was handled. My main question is: Why wasnt he getting treatment for his knee if it was the straintear that we are being told? Isnt the critical part of dealing with such an injury putting ice on it as soon as possible so that the swelling can be controlled so that the knee could be fit with a brace if it would be needed in say, 2 weeks?

This is where the Cutler indictment starts. Rightly or wrongly, because he was not taken off the field on a stretcher, his toughness is being questioned. I dont think this line of questioning would be asked of a lot of other athletes. For two reasons it is: First, Cutler has not made a lot of friends in the media which is now bashing him. Second, it seems the Bears are in over their heads in dealing with their Cutler situation. They know hes a lightning-rod, but do they help diffuse any of the situations which he has gotten himself into? Why is there so much venom? Did this just happen? Hes a person who is need of some help and you would think if hes one of your prized assets you would help him, or demand, that he get it from someone else, say a professional.

The shots of Cutlers disengagement brought a weird feeling over the bar. Not knowing what happened or why he was just standing there looking into outer-space was not painting a good picture for the face of the franchise. I do not question the fact that he was hurt. Unless it is you, you will not understand what he is going through. But because of the reaction to his injury, it about time that he, and the Bears, realize that the way things have been done, is not working. Not saying that he has to change, but he can at least try to play the game. Im with Barkley in that all athletes are not role models, but most of them can be used to teach the right and wrong way to handle a situation since they tend to live their lives in very public ways. Part of the maturity of any person is to understand that there might be better ways to do things, that just because you think that something should be done in a certain way, makes it the ONLY way it should be done.

I have found myself defending Jay a lot at the bar, and on TV, this year. I only met him once, but I got a good vibe off of talking to him and I usually trust my instincts, as jaded as I am. But my defending him in animated bar conversations does not matter. What matters is whether he wants to defend himself. I know he may not believe it, but people do want to give him a chance, he just has to let them in, show them that he can be their guy. For as much as he does not want to admit it, being a quarterback, in a major U.S. city is a big thing and comes with a lot of responsibility. He can view it that way and find a path forward that hopefully wont be as painful as the one hes on now, or he can look back many years from now and wonder if only he did things differently. Its his choice.
But for sure, well be watching. For in the court of public opinion, there are no mandatory sentences or statute of limitations. Theres just a constant docket that occupies our attention. Any decision can be over-turned, the public just needs a reason to do so.

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

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USA Today Sports Images

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

A thought here after watching Thursday night’s Chargers-Chiefs tilt, which featured eight flags for either defensive pass interference or defensive holding...

As the NFL makes it harder for defensive players to play defense (and as TV ratings go up), the Bears are one of the cleanest teams when it comes to their opponents’ passing game. They rank second among teams with only eight combined defensive holding and defensive pass interference penalties: 

1. Dallas (5)
2. Chicago (8)
3. Oakland (10)
4. Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers (11)
6. Arizona, Indianapolis (12)
8. Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Houston, Philadelphia (13)
14. Cincinnati, New York Jets, Seattle, Tampa Bay (14)
18. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (15)
20. Los Angeles Rams (16)
21. Buffalo, Minnesota, New England (17)
24. Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, San Francisco (18)
29. Atlanta, Miami (20)
31. New Orleans (23)
32. Kansas City (36)

The Chargers entered Thursday night’s game tied with the Bears with eight holding/pass interference penalties, but where whistled for three during the game — and not all were clear fouls, either. And that kind of stuff can be annoying for defensive players around the league to see. 

“100 percent,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “.. .I’ve seen some things, I’m like come on, man. But there’s some things you can’t control. Control what you can control, and that’s go out there and play ball and to the best of your ability try not to hold or get a flag for pass interference called on you.”

Jackson credited four members of the coaching staff with the Bears’ ability to avoid holding/interference penalties: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson and quality control assistant Sean Desai. From teaching proper technique for being told what to watch out for, this is a well-coached group. Only cornerback Prince Amukamara — who’s usually in press coverage, subjecting him to the most contact — has been whistled for multiple interference or holding flags this year (he actually has half the Bears’ total, with four). 

“It’s a combination of both (coaching and technique) I would say,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The players, technique-wise is a big part of it. You’ve got to be really disciplined in that area. And then I think the other part of it is with the coaching is making sure that they’re watching to make sure to see where they’re at with it. So far, to have that, you want that overall as a team to be the least penalized, specifically in that area, that’s always a good thing.”

Consider it another feather in the cap of the league’s best defense: Even when passing-oriented rule changes and tweaks supposedly make it harder to play defense, the Bears largely haven’t suffered for it. 

“It’s more difficult for the referees, too,” Nagy said. “It’s difficult for them. It’s difficult for the players. There’s some subjectiveness to it. But you gotta try to not be too grabby.”  

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Bulls engaging in Jabari Parker trade talks, according to a report

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USA TODAY

Bulls engaging in Jabari Parker trade talks, according to a report

Jabari Parker's time in a Bulls uniform could be coming to a close.

According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls are engaging in trade talks regarding Parker with several teams.

It should be no surprise if and when the Bulls ultimately move on from Parker. Following a report that the 23-year-old Chicago-native will be dropped from the Bulls' rotation, Parker played just four minutes Thursday against the Magic. In fact, he played just 19 minutes in the Bulls' previous game, Monday against the Kings.

"I think it's a matchup thing," coach Jim Boylen said after the game. "I also think that it's hard to play three fours. It's very difficult to do that. We played him some minutes at three and I didn't think that was the way to go the rest of the game."

However, Boylen's comments backup the fact that Parker was always a curious fit for the Bulls. At 6-foot-8, 245 pounds, Parker is best-suited to play power forward, though the Bulls tried to play him at small forward to start the season. 

Overall, Parker is ranked 414th out 451 NBA players on ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus rankings. According to ESPN, RPM demonstrates the "net change in score (plus or minus) while each player is on the court." If his ranking did not make it obvious enough, Parker's DRPM of -1.65 leaves a lot to be desired. 

When it became apparent that Parker struggles to guard other small forwards, the Bulls moved him to the bench. At that point, Parker, the Bulls' highest-paid player, became a $20 million bench player. He returned to the starting lineup following injuries to Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, but both players have since returned to game action for the Bulls. 

Even with Chandler Hutchinson (sick) out for the Bulls on Thursday, Parker did not see much action. Following the game, Boylen said that he likes Hutchinson, but there might be a chance to get Parker minutes at small forward.

"Him (Parker) playing four is difficult right now. Him playing three, there may be an opportunity there," Boylen said. "I like Hutch. Hutch was sick tonight so Jabari got some of those minutes at three in that situation."

Saturday is the first day that Parker is eligible to be traded. Defensive struggles aside, Parker could provide a team with an offensive boost. This season, he is averaging 18.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, shooting 45.5 percent from the field.

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