Jay Cutler owns up and moves on
MARK POTASH ON THE bEARs October 19, 2011 9:54PM
Quarterback Jay Cutler downplayed the idea he has a deep-seated issue with coordinator Mike Martz. | dan luedert~sun-times media
Updated: November 21, 2011 10:37AM
Jay Cutler usually can’t hide his disdain for uncomfortable or annoying subjects during his weekly news conferences. With a dismissive attitude, curt responses and body language that says he rather would be anywhere but in the media room at Halas Hall, he has a habit of making things worse than when he started.
That wasn’t the case Wednesday, when Cutler was
asked about the ‘‘[bleep] him’’
he sent to offensive coordinator Mike Martz during the Bears’ victory Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
‘‘Things happen. You guys were fighting in the hallways last week,’’ Cutler said, eliciting laughter for his reference to an altercation between
rivals in the media room last Wednesday at Halas Hall. ‘‘I’m not going to make a big deal of this; it’s not a big deal. We’re all on the same team in this building. We’re [trying] to win football games.’’
Who knows what really happens behind closed doors between Cutler and Martz. And who knows how much discord there is between the two and how much it’s hampering the progress of the Bears’ offense.
But Cutler at least made a plausible case that it’s much ado about nothing. And that, in itself, is significant progress for Cutler, who is on a roll with back-to-back games of 99.6 and 115.9 passer ratings. He has had consecutive games without an interception for only the second time in the last four seasons.
Heat of the moment
Cutler handled the Martz situation as adeptly as he did the Detroit Lions’ pass rush Oct. 10.
Frustrated after a second-down play Sunday on which Devin Hester dropped a catchable ball with 43 seconds left in the first half, Cutler glared at the Bears’ sideline, quickly called a play in the huddle, then turned to the Bears’ sideline again and said, ‘‘Tell [Martz] I said, ‘[Bleep] him.’ ’’ Matt Forte lost one yard on a third-and-seven draw play before Robbie Gould kicked a 51-yard field goal to give the Bears a 26-3 lead.
Cutler didn’t deny cursing or directing it at Martz. And he said he didn’t regret saying it, either. Just two competitive people clashing in the heat of the moment. Happens all the time, he said.
That, it does — but not very often when a team is leading by 20 points. And not very often while a quarterback is trying to run a play in the final minute of a half.
But Cutler denied that was evidence of a more deep-seated issue with Martz.
‘‘I’m a competitor,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘So is he. So is everyone on this offense. Whether we’re up three touchdowns or three points, a second- and third-down call is as important as any one in the game.
‘‘So . . . it is what it is. We’re good. We’re moving on. Excited about his week’s game plan and excited to go play in London.’’
‘His energy moves us’
Martz claimed he didn’t even know about the incident.
‘‘I’m sorry, I’m lost. What are you talking about?’’ he said with a straight face after practice Wednesday.
When it was explained what Cutler had said, Martz took it in stride.
‘‘Well, if it was [directed] at me, that’s probably the nicest thing that a player said to me during a game,’’ he said, drawing laughter.
‘‘You’ve got to understand, during a game, a lot of things get said. Trust me. It’s a very strong, very competitive
environment. That’s not an issue, really. Just part of the deal. It’s not an issue.’’
Cutler and Martz are such different guys that Martz is probably right. The Bears’ offense still is lagging behind expectations 11/2 seasons into Martz’s tenure. It might not become the offense it’s purported to be. And Cutler might not become the quarterback he’s purported to be. But any personality issues Cutler might be having with Martz are just a symptom.
‘‘We are a team, and whenever [Cutler] gets fired up, we get fired up,’’ center Roberto Garza said. ‘‘We started playing well, and all that excitement comes from our quarterback. He leads our team. Whatever he does, we do.’’
Garza said he was so
focused on the task at hand that he didn’t react to Cutler’s outburst. But he was pretty certain Cutler’s emotion helps drive the offense, even when he’s cussing out his
‘‘His energy moves us,’’ Garza said. ‘‘It’s part of the offense, and it’s what we
enjoy about having a guy like that in the pocket.’’