The Chicago Bears may not have been facing the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game Thursday night, but Cutler was a human lightning rod for criticism after the Bears’ 23-10 loss all the same, just as he was in January 2011.
This time, he didn’t come out of the game, he raged within it. Cutler was intercepted four times and sacked seven, absorbed a verbal shot from Charles Woodson afterward and chewed out his offensive linemen, one of whom he bumped on the field.
After an 11-of-27 performance (126 yards, 28.3 passer rating), he was Cutleresque with his body language and his word choice.
“I care about this,’’ Cutler said. “This isn’t just a hobby. I’m not doing this for my health. I’m trying to win football games. When we’re not doing the little things or things the right way consistently, I’m going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn’t care, they can get someone else.”
“There is nothing like having a bad game, but when you have it, you have to deal with it correctly. It’s not how one deals with a win. How does one deal with a loss or bad game? I’m no different than you. Time to prepare. Go Bears!”
Earlier in the week, when asked about the Packers, Cutler had wished the Packers “good luck” in covering the Bears and those words evidently stuck with Woodson, who on ESPN said of Cutler’s performance, “We understand that Jay is excited about his new weapons, but it’s the same old Jay. We don’t need luck. We just need to be in position. Jay will throw us the ball.”
It was bad. Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times wrote: “Forget about Cutler’s bad body language issues of last season. That was nothing. The Bears had a crazed quarterback on their hands. He lurched between snapping at teammates and spraying poorly thrown passes all over the field.”
Spats happen in games all the time. New England’s Tom Brady famously yelled at his offensive coordinator last season in a game against the Washington Redskins — then stood up in a press conference and said, “I deserved to be yelled at.” Even if he didn’t buy it, it’s what a leader and a respected teammate says.
Cutler may have intended to say something like that, but, fairly or not, his demeanor and words indicated otherwise. He was, as the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh put it, “unrepentant after unraveling.”