As is well noted, I have been a Bears fan the last bunch of years, since I started travelling to Chicago in pursuit of a long-distance relationship that now, somewhat mercifully, has consolidated itself to just Northern California.
However, as I knew when I decided to root for the then haphazard Bears, aligning with a sports team is a dicey thing. Much like love, you may dump your team--or even have your team dump you, by moving to another city--but shaking the roots of love is no easy task.
So, I still follow the Bears even though Diane lives in El Cerrito, and even though the Niners are in the Super Bowl this year, and even though the bloody Raiders continue to haunt me with inexplicably bad play.
One thing I have been, since I decided to be a Bears fan is try to look at Jay Cutler objectively. The former Bronco has so much talent and such a great arm, not to mention a litany of struggles and criticism suggesting despite the skill set Cutler is just not a money signal caller.
The truth is I have tried to watch Jay carefully since I claimed the Monsters of the Midway, and I have even written about this on occasion over the past few years.
In watching Cutler I have reasoned that if the QB takes a deep breath, and does not try to win games with every play, uses the clock, and his team, he plays pretty well.
But, once the Bears fall behind, or he gets in trouble, Cutler either makes mistakes, or worse, tries to force plays he should not, and instead of steadily guiding his team back, he simply adds to the cascade of misadventures, dooming his team.
I remember several years back, when Mike Martz was calling the offense for Chicago, and the Bears were playing the Cowboys, and getting slaughtered over the first quarter.
Cutler was simply getting crushed by the Dallas pass rush, with his offensive line just not able to protect their guy (and, that has been a problem for Cutler and the Bears the last handful of years).
For the second period of the Dallas game, Martz adjusted his calls, allowing Cutler for quick drops and passes over the middle, not allowing the pass rush time to get to him before the ball was gone.
The adjustment worked, and Chicago came from behind to beat Dallas, and even make it to the playoffs that year.
So, as long as Cutler seemed to trust Martz and his vision, along with Lovie Smith, things were fine. However, in other games, when things would go awry, like a memorable game against the Giants, Cutler would dig an insurmountable hole by playing as noted.
On the other hand, I picked Russell Wilson for one of my fantasy teams this year. I had not really intended upon taking Wilson, thinking I could get Robert Griffin III, or even Oliver Luck around the fifth or sixth round as I had Cam Newton last year.
Well, I had to let go of Newton due to freeze limits, and both Griffin and Luck were snatched before I had a chance to grab them, so I took a chance on Wilson as my #2 QB, behind Carson Palmer.
Since I also had Marshawn Lynch on that fantasy squad, I took to watching the Seahawks this season so I could see my guys play.
Wilson started slowly—and, I believe that was largely due to Pete Carroll and his coaching staff wanting to keep their QB from getting in too deep too fast, but as the season progressed, along with Wilson’s confidence, the new Seattle star seemed to come into his own.
However, it was not just that Wilson stayed within himself: rather he seemed to have the smarts to simply not try and force a play as Cutler does.
It is not like Wilson has not has his picks or fumbles, but these errors have not come nearly in the same context as Cutler.
More significant, Wilson has been able to rally his team when down, again maintaining his cool, and working it one play at a time. And, the reality is after being down by the Falcons, Wilson rallied his team and was only a end of game time out call that backfired prior to a field goal kick away from making it to the NFC Championship game against the Forty-Niners.
And, remember, Seattle stuck it to San Francisco just a few weeks before, suggesting a Seattle/San Francisco match-up could have been a real shootout (not that the Atlanta-SF game was a disappointment).
The point is that I could see Wilson display that play discipline the first time I saw him on the field, while Cutler showed the same lack to me as soon as I started to follow him (in fact I noticed the same skill in San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, which is one reason I liked him over Alex Smith right away).
It is why we can probably watch Wilson really develop into a serious start, guiding his team to the playoffs for a few years in the future, while I suspect Cutler will continue to be his own worst enemy on the field.