Will the 'real' Jay Cutler please stand up?

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Will the 'real' Jay Cutler please stand up?

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
2:47 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Seattle Seahawks know as little about Jay Cutler as the general public, the Bears should be in very good shape on Sunday.

As he does most weeks at his standard weekly press conference, the Bears quarterback took questions Wednesday. One was from an out-of-town writer, wanting to know from Cutler how many in the crowded media room really knew Cutler.

I dont know, Cutler said. Youre gonna have to poll these guys, I guess.

A couple of hands attached to senses of humor went up in the back of the room.

Right there, thats one, Cutler said, smiling. Two.

Why is that the case? he was asked.

Because they raised their hands, Cutler said, deftly dodging the real question. I dont hang out with anybody in this room on a regular basis except for Wednesday press conferences. So Im sure its kind of hard to get to know somebody within a 10-minute weekly press conference.

But if his demeanor, the looks away from whoever is talking to him or the other indicators suggest standoffishness, those who see him the most insist thats not the real Jay.

There have been Bears quarterbacks thoroughly disliked by teammates. Cade McNown comes immediately to mind. Jim McMahon had the offensive side of the locker room behind him and some on the defensive side ready to punch him out. Olin Kreutz once had to be restrained from taking out Moses Moreno during a pre-practice snapping drill in training camp.

Derisive comments were made by the likes of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher about Cutler when he was acquired. But those were taken largely out of context and fell under the general heading of defensive guys considering all quarterbacks a sub-species.

Cutler is nowhere near that list or description.

I probably know him better than yall do, said running back Matt Forte. I will tell you that hes probably the opposite of what you media guys portray him to be. Jays a good guy who comes to work every day to work hard. A lot of guys get this perception of Jay as whatever, arrogant, but I think hes the opposite of that.

Not interested

Of all the quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matt Hasselbeck and Cutler Cutler has perhaps the poorest reputation, something that followed him from Denver. (Ben Roethlisberger is also still in the playoffs but neither Cutler nor the rest of the group deserve to be lumped into any reputation or personality sentence with Roethlisberger and his off-field conduct.)

Cutler is active through his foundation in working against diabetes, but his public appearances at schools and such have not always been comfortable experiences for either Cutler or those waiting for him, sources said.

But public perceptions are far less important this time of year than what teammates think of him. Cutler, as quarterbacks routinely do, occasionally attended the traditional weekly offensive line dinner, although that custom was discontinued some weeks ago after being moved to Monday nights.

Cutler and the team have strictly limited his availability to Wednesday press conferences and post-game podium Q&As. So if few people have any real idea what Cutler is like as a person, thats Cutlers choice.

As soon as they put cameras in the huddle and on the sideline and tape everything, which is pretty close, said Kreutz, youll never know who guys really are.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.