Jon Greenberg, a writer for ESPNChicago.com, did a wonderful little hit piece on Jared Allen this weekend, full of backhanded complements as he drones on ad nauseum about #69's past transgressions.
(Can anyone explain to me how we can justify an ESPN offshoot for Chicago? Is it the mid-80s? Did Michael Jordan come back? Are Chicago sports somehow relevant again and I've just missed it somehow?)
Greenberg spends the article alternating between calling Allen annoying, stupid, and a cheap-shot artist, in so many words. He brings up the DUIs, naturally (not bothering to note that the guy has been clean and sober since his last incident, meaning he's been clean the entire time he's been in Minnesota), the low hits on quarterbacks, all that other good stuff, and then makes a half-hearted attempt to make it sound like he respects him after all.
Sorry, Jon. . .not buying it.
Honestly, I might be a bit biased as a Viking fan, but I don't get how anybody can hate Jared Allen. The guy came into the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick, busted his tail to become the best pass-rushing DE in football, and has made huge strides to being a great all-around defender. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the trade has worked out so well for the Vikings to this point. In his 26 games with Minnesota, Allen has registered 24.5 sacks and has transformed the Minnesota defense from merely being good to being outstanding. So, really, I don't get the Jared Allen hate.
But there is somebody coming to the Metrodome tomorrow that doesn't get nearly the level of hate that they should, in my opinion, largely because so many people are too busy trying to make excuses for him. Allow me to explain myself a bit. . .and there won't be anything backhanded in this article, believe me.
So, Mr. Greenberg, and anybody else that might be out there listening. . .let me tell you a little bit about Jay Cutler.When we look back at the end of the 2008 season, we remember that the Vikings held off a challenge from the Bears to win the NFC North. After watching each team for 16 games. . .17 in the case of the Vikings. . .the football intelligencia out there made the declaration that the Bears and the Vikings were both merely a quarterback away from being serious Super Bowl contenders. So, when the Denver Broncos made Jay Cutler available, the Vikings and Bears were immediately named as the two most logical suitors for the Broncos to trade with.
Cutler, if you'll remember, was the guy that spent the last three games of the 2008 season not securing the one victory it would have taken for the Broncos to eliminate the San Diego Chargers and win the AFC West title, including a season finale that saw him get his head stomped in repeatedly by the Chargers on national television. He was also second in the NFL in interceptions in 2008, and finished the season with a QB rating of 86.0. (For the record, Tarvaris Jackson had a 2008 QB rating of 95.4. Just sayin' is all.)
So, with such a stellar performance in his back pocket, you can surely understand why it is that when Cutler got wind that new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels had explored the possibility of trading him, Cutler thrown what my late grandmother would have referred to as a "conniption fit." He whined, he cried, he pouted, he screamed, he trashed McDaniels in the press, and refused to meet with McDaniels, all because the coach had the nerve. . .the gall. . .to potentially explore an option that he thought might improve his team.
For such an elite, outstanding, mature specimen, the Chicago Bears were willing to give up two first-round draft choices, a third-round choice, and quarterback Kyle Orton. Bears' GM Jerry Angelo had, apparently, bought into the "one player away" hype, and was immediately lauded for bringing the greatest damn quarterback since. . .heck, I don't know. . .Sid Luckman, I guess, to the Windy City.
And I, for one, am so glad that he did. See, like Greenberg said about Allen, I should like Jay Cutler. But I should like him for different reasons than Greenberg should like Allen. Greenberg should like Jared Allen because he hustles, he always gives 100%, and he's outstanding at what he does.
I should like Cutler because he's a loser and a coach killer. Don't believe me? Here's the record of every team that Jay Cutler has been the starting quarterback for since he left Heritage High School in Lincoln City, Indiana.
2002 Vanderbilt Commodores: 2-10
2003 Vanderbilt Commodores: 2-10
2004 Vanderbilt Commodores: 2-9
2005 Vanderbilt Commodores: 5-6
2006 Denver Broncos: 2-3
2007 Denver Broncos: 7-9
2008 Denver Broncos: 8-8
2009 Chicago Bears: 4-6
This is worth three draft choices and a $30 million extension? Man, am I glad the Vikings "settled" for Brett Favre for $12 million a year. Think that chair that Lovie Smith is sitting on isn't significantly warmer now than it was at the beginning of the year?
In Denver, Cutler had a great coach in Mike Shanahan, a great offensive line. . .he took only 11 sacks in all of 2008, and has taken 20 already this year. . .a great group of receivers and tight ends in Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and Tony Scheffler, and a solid running game. He has none of those things in Chicago. With the Bears, his #1 receiver is a guy that's at the position because Lovie Smith woke up one morning and said to himself, "Hey, you know what I think would really help our football team? Let's take the single most devastating special teams weapon in the history of the league and turn him into a significantly below-average wide receiver. Man, I'm a genius!"
(And Bear fans have the nerve to imply that Brad Childress is an idiot.)
The thing that disgusts me most about Cutler is the way he carries himself on the field. He whines. He cries. He pouts. He blames teammates. There isn't one single thing about him that would make you mistake him for any sort of a leader at all, which a lot of teams depend on their quarterback to be. He's realizing just how hard it is to be a quarterback in the NFL when you're not playing with guys that are capable of bailing you out all the time. And with a dearth of draft choices for the Bears (having used their first-rounder this year on Cutler and wasting their second-rounder on Gaines Adams), the cupboard isn't going to fill up for him any time soon.
As I said in my article about Favre's candidacy for the MVP award the other day, some quarterbacks can raise the games of the rest of the players on the offense. Some quarterbacks, on the other hand, need to have their games raised for them by the rest of their offensive teammates. Cutler falls firmly into the latter category. He doesn't know what it takes to be a winner, because he's never been a winner at any level. And there's a very good chance that he never will be. Forget comparing him to Favre. . .I'm not sure if he's a better quarterback than Tarvaris Jackson at this point.
So thank you, Chicago, for putting an absolutely ridiculous offer on the table and saving us from Jay Cutler. Thank you for actually thinking that you were only one player away from glory, despite the fact that your offensive line is awful, your secondary isn't very good, and your defensive line is getting old.
Chicago deserves Jay Cutler, and Jay Cutler deserves Chicago. I didn't like Cutler when he was with Denver, and I sure as heck can't stand him now.
(See, Jon. . .if you're going to hate someone, you should really try for somebody more hate-worthy.)