Cutler’s call to Urlacher can wait — he has an offense to run
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org | @ricktelander September 12, 2013 9:02PM
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Updated: October 15, 2013 7:24AM
One of the biggest differences between humans in this country is that there are those who are NFL players and those who are not.
For better or worse, Jay Cutler is.
And Brian Urlacher is not.
So when good ol’ No. 54 tells a TV interviewer that when he retired from the NFL and ‘‘I did not hear from Jay, out of all the guys I played with,’’ you can only be left with two thoughts.
Two, Brian Urlacher is not good pals with Jay Cutler, who has never been known as a cuddly buddy to anyone.
But because Urlacher, who is still whining about the way he was let go by the Bears — with an offer he found insulting, with no recollection that pro football is mean and its sword heartless — is now yammering as never before. We probably will hear more stuff like this as the Bears’ season progresses.
We’ll get to Cutler in a second. But upon hearing Urlacher tell interviewer Graham Bensinger that ‘‘maybe we weren’t as close as . . . we could have been. That’s just the way to let you know where you stand with people,” you have to chuckle.
We all knew Urlacher wasn’t overjoyed when Cutler came to the Bears from the Broncos. Maybe the defensive star disliked the idea of sharing the spotlight with an offensive star. Maybe he didn’t like Cutler’s snarky attitude.
But it didn’t really matter. What middle linebacker does love his quarterback? Linebackers want to expunge quarterbacks, all of them. You think Dick Butkus and Rudy Bukich exchanged billets-doux? Dan Hampton wasn’t a linebacker, but he was on defense, and he detested Jim McMahon. So it goes.
Plus, as noted, Urlacher no longer plays for the Bears. So, buh-bye. (However, he should make an excellent TV analyst, as long as he keeps telling us all those things he wouldn’t say when he was a player — such as how Bears defenders faked injuries to slow down offenses, how he quit getting his barbed-wire biceps tattoo because he was 18 and ‘‘it hurt,’’ etc.)
Cutler brushed off the suggested slight to the former Bears defensive star by telling the media Thursday, ‘‘I haven’t spoken to Brian. I did not call him, so I guess I’ll reach out to him.’’
If it didn’t sound all that urgent or sincere, it might be because Cutler has other things on his mind. Like the Vikings this Sunday. And it might also be because Cutler seems to have a tunnel vision that keeps him from being offended by what anybody thinks of him.
That was why he claimed he didn’t notice he hadn’t been sacked in the opener against the Bengals. It took him walking around with a clear brain and no broken bones to realize he was intact, apparently.
Then, too, there are some genuine changes — for the better — with this quarterback who has been so hard for Chicago to hug to its chest.
Cutler is no longer in his 20s. He is married, with a 1-year-old son and — we’ll believe wife Kristin Cavallari’s chatter in the gossips — trying to have a second child. He is playing for a new, huge contract. He has become more mature, more expanded in his view of things.
And perhaps, above all, he has a new coach and offensive play-caller who seems to mesh with his sometimes aloof, distant personality. It’s even possible that when Cutler feuded with former offensive coordinators, it was because, frankly, those men weren’t very good at what they did.
Not so with Marc Trestman, himself a former quarterback and an acknowledged maker of offensive leaders. It’s way early, but there seems to be a calm understanding between the two men as to how the Bears’ attack should be run.
Not that the ‘O’ was perfect last Sunday. Far from it. As Cutler admitted, it was a surprise when the refs wouldn’t let him run the plays as quickly as he wanted, because if the Bears substitute players on offense, they have to allow the foes to substitute, too.
‘‘Kind of a learning experience for us,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘I talked to the ref about it. If you want to do it, don’t sub, and you can go as fast as you want to go.’’
That can be fixed. But one thing that must come naturally, and seemingly has, is the leadership mantle Cutler now wears.
You ask Trestman if Jay is the team leader, and he says it’s obvious.
‘‘I think his teammates believe he is,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘That ‘C’ on his chest, I didn’t give it to him. His coaches didn’t. His teammates [did].’’
Urlacher, of course, had no vote.