This is all going to end poorly.
And I don't mean poorly for the Chicago Bears or Jay Cutler—I mean poorly for us, the non-Bear fans of the National Football League.
My stance on Jay Cutler is a matter of public record. I won't rehash the subject—suffice it to say I'm not a fan of the way he handled the situation. However, I never doubted the guy's talent. Jay Cutler is absolutely one of the most talented quarterbacks currently spiraling the pigskin.
When you have oodles and oodles at QB, it doesn't take too much more talent to create a special situation.
I don't know much about the Denver Broncos except that their defense was putrid last year and the entire team was decimated by injuries to key parts. And that they almost made the playoffs on Cutler's back.
Cutler still managed to buoy the franchise to some big wins and the peripherals of the American Football Conference playoff race despite the marginal players around him—granted, had the team made it, it would've been through the side door since the AFC West was so weak (eventually sending the 8-8 San Diego Chargers to the playoffs).
Nonetheless, the fact remains that the precocious QB would've taken the Broncs to the postseason if not for losing the tie-breaker to the Bolts.
So, yeah, Jay Cutler's got some run in him. He's got game if I can date myself.
Enough game, actually, that Da Bears have suddenly become a juggernaut in the National Football Conference.
Seriously, you KNOW that defense is going to bring the wood. Its ranking from 2008 is misleading because Chicago's D saw the most offensive plays in the NFL. That would presumably be a function of their notoriously poor offense since Urlacher's unit allowed a paltry 4.9 yards per play, good for fifth in the League.
Trailing only the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Tennessee Titans. Who looks out of place on that list?
Hint: it's the team that watched the playoffs from home.
Yes, Brian Urlacher has lost a step—there's no shame in succumbing a tad to the grind of the NFL and that's all he's lost, a tad. I'm still taking him over most of the linebackers in the League.
And I'm not a Bears fan.
I have nothing against them since their legendary battles with my San Francisco 49ers were a little before my time in football. Rather, I point out I'm not a fan of the team to emphasize that health may very well have been a factor in Chicago last year as it was in Denver. It doesn't matter too much to me since I think the defense was underrated in '08 anyway.
But it could be astounding in 2009 considering Jay Cutler should reduce the defense's workload, which should help Urlacher and the rest of his mates stay fresh (and healthier if it was an issue in '08).
I know one man (or man-boy) cannot turn a bad offense into a great one, but a fantastic signal-caller can turn a bad offense into a decent or even good one. Cutler's ability is, without a doubt, fantastic.
Of course, let's not forget the emergence of Matt Forte last season. If not for the superlative seasons of Matt Ryan and (to a lesser statistical degree) Joe Flacco, Forte would've gotten a lot more love because the kid put up one hell of a season.
Toss in the signing of Orlando Pace, the steady and superb Olin Kreutz, the developing Devin Hester, an overlooked talent in Brandon Lloyd (who's now got a real QB throwing him the ball), the athletically gifted Greg Olsen at tight end, and there are some pieces to like in a vacuum.
With Jay Cutler figuring in the equation? They become a whole lot shinier and the picture starts looking less like a one man show.
More importantly, each incremental step of progress on offense should be matched by a much larger one on defense. That should, in turn, help the offense with better field position, larger margin for error, less pressure, etc. With each side feeding the other and Cutler's supreme talent as the seed, the final product should be more than anyone in the NFC can handle.
And that's really bad news for NFL fans who don't happen to root for the Chicago Bears because it only reinforces Jay Cutler's behavior.
He whined, stamped his feet, and lied—sorry, I don't believe for a second Josh McDaniels and Pat Bowlen are lying about their attempts to get Cutler on the phone. He acted selfishly and conceitedly because, as Mark Schlereth pointed out, this is hardly the first time an employee has been lied to by his bosses (if that's in fact what happened).
Now, it seems he'll be rewarded for it.
Because, if and when the Chicago Bears begin turning heads next season, who do you think the networks and media outlets are going to side with? Who do you think will be crucified? All the more so if the Broncos struggle—as they probably will having lost a franchise QB and replacing him with Kyle Orton and draft picks.
Not to mention a new and (increasingly) unpopular coach.
When all is said and done, Jay Cutler's going to come out smelling like a rose and Denver will have a different odor.
And that's unfortunate.
Because it's tolerating the Jay Cutlers that produces a Plaxico Burress or Chad Ocho Sinko or Terrell Owens or...Jay Cutler.
Apparently, this guy has already crossed swords with Ron Turner when he was at Illinois. And he refused a trade to the Cleveland Browns because he didn't want to play for Eric Mangini.
The release of Owens and Burress where small steps forward for the NFL, moving the League closer to a future where the lunatics don't have such free reign over the asylum.
Steps that will be totally obliterated when the Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler become the toast of the town in 2009.