MORRISSEY: In the sulking dept., Newton has supplanted Cutler
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com October 24, 2012 11:08PM
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Updated: November 26, 2012 7:19AM
A testy Jay Cutler ended a news conference last week by saying he was done talking about his sideline demeanor, his attitude, the criticism of him by former NFL quarterbacks and anything other than the upcoming opponent.
When he was finished with this week’s gathering of his favorite people, life was much better for him for two good reasons:
† He had exhibited loads of toughness after getting buried under 307 pounds of Ndamukong Suh, suffering bruised ribs and coming back to play in the Bears’ victory over Detroit.
† On Sunday, he will be playing against Carolina’s Cam Newton, who has passed him, if for the moment, in the Bad Body Language rankings.
And as an added bonus, fans in a Forbes magazine survey voted Suh the least liked player in the NFL, which is a victory for Cutler, who finished second. So you can see why the Bears quarterback would have had a skip in his step Wednesday if his ribs weren’t so sore. Somebody out there doesn’t hate him so much!
On Monday night, fans at Soldier Field gave him an ovation when he got to his feet after being Suh-plexed.
“That was good to hear,’’ Cutler said. “It hasn’t always been great around here, but they’re coming around slowly but surely.’’
Newton’s experience has been the opposite. After a huge rookie year, the Panthers quarterback has struggled this season and found himself on the receiving end of criticism about his sour demeanor. Teammate Steve Smith ripped him for sulking on the sideline during a loss to the Giants in Week 3. Newton looked especially defeated Sunday during a postgame news conference and was a big topic on talk shows.
By comparison, the last few days, Cutler has been feeling as loved as Bono.
Ah, but it wouldn’t be a day in the Life of Jay if someone didn’t criticize him, even if he was an innocent bystander. Warren Moon told Yahoo! Sports that the criticism of Newton this season has had a racial undertone to it. Too often, he said, Newton is compared with Vince Young, a black quarterback whose pro career has been a bust.
“If you want to compare him to someone because of his demeanor, compare him to Jay Cutler,’’ Moon said. “There are a lot of guys who whine and moan. Cam’s not biting anybody’s head off or pushing his linemen. He’s just disgruntled and not handling losing well because, think about it, he basically didn’t lose in college.
“I don’t think Cam’s as bad as Cutler because Cutler looks like he doesn’t give a damn sometimes, or he’s yelling and cussing at someone. Cam, he just looks down when they’re losing.”
And to think, the day was going so well for Cutler.
Newton thinks of Moon as a mentor but said the Hall of Fame quarterback is off base in seeing a racial element to the criticism.
Newton has more pressing things to worry about, such as his mediocre performance, his team’s 1-5 record, the Bears’ roaring success on defense and Poutgate.
‘‘I just keep living life,’’ he said. “I’m not perfect. I’m striving to be great. Whatever people may think or whatever other people may criticize me on, I take it for what it’s worth but continuously try to make myself better.’’
The Panthers are a mess right now, reflected in their firing Monday of general manager Marty Hurney. Cutler said danger “absolutely’’ lurks for the Bears in Carolina’s struggles.
“You get some teams with their backs against the wall, and you just got to know they’re going to play the hardest football that they’ve probably played all year,’’ he said.
Speaking of walls, Newton has run into one at full speed. Last year, he set NFL records for most passing yards (4,051) by a rookie and most rushing touchdowns in a season (14) by a quarterback. He’s well off the pace in both categories due to some combination of a sophomore slump, bad play-calling, defenses getting smarter and the fact that the Panthers, you know, stink.
“They’ll get it figured out,’’ Cutler said.
What magnanimity! Do you see what a little happiness can do? Maybe it’s his weekly radio show. Maybe that’s opened him up a little bit.
“Winning helps, too,’’ he said. “Anytime you win, it’s going to be a cure-all. We lose, [like] after the Packers week, we’re back at DEFCON .’’
He’s right. The alert system is calm. For now.