Telander: How much does it mean that Jay Cutler was caught swearing at Mike Martz?
RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org October 19, 2011 10:04PM
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterback Jay Cutler haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on things. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 21, 2011 10:38AM
It’s kind of funny when you blindside a coach with something he’s clueless about.
Well, not funny. Weird.
Then again, so is having more invasive video cameras in Chicago than in any other American city — blue lights flashing everywhere, your image caught here, there and at every ATM — with ‘‘Sunday Night Football’’ cameras and overhead microphones just the cherries on top.
For Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, at least.
When Cutler was caught bellowing, ‘‘Tell him I said, ‘[Bleep] him,’ ’’ in reference to offensive coordinator Mike Martz during the Bears’ game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, Martz was in the press box, unaware of anything but down and distance.
The public still would be that way, too, were it not for that overhead TV camera and mic. But we heard and saw Cutler, and now it’s on the Internet, stored forever, just like ‘‘Bambi’’ or the first nuclear bomb in the Nevada desert.
‘‘I didn’t see . . . obviously, I was . . . I’m sorry, I’m lost,’’ Martz said in confusion when he was asked Wednesday about Cutler’s words. ‘‘What are you talking about?’’
He really didn’t know.
We were in the Walter Payton Center, protected from the nasty wind and rain outside, and Martz was dry and baffled.
You think coaches surf YouTube for fun when there’s film of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to break down?
‘‘And he’s directing that to who?’’ Martz asked with a laugh.
‘‘Well, if it was [directed] at me, that’s probably the nicest thing that a player said to me during a game,’’ he said.
It was hard to tell if Martz was serious, covering up or amused.
To put this in perspective, people should realize that in a game where paychecks, spinal cords and caveman aggressiveness are all on the line, insulting somebody with words is about as nasty as pulling a hair from a foe’s forearm.
Still, there has been an ongoing lack of cohesiveness and brotherhood between Martz and Cutler in their nearly two years together, signified by plays getting called late, blocking schemes that are too complex to execute, patterns that don’t spring open and Cutler getting knocked around like a rag doll.
In 2009, in the days when Martz was a talker on an NFL Network show called ‘‘The Head Coaches,’’ he said of Cutler: ‘‘He just doesn’t get it. . . . Sombody needs to talk to him.’’
Cutler had been immature, snarky and loaded with cliches after throwing four interceptions in a game against the Green Bay Packers.
So Martz came in six months later as the Bears’ offensive coordinator, and we’ll assume he gave Cutler the aforementioned ‘‘talk.’’
But who knows for sure?
Cutler is a prickly guy who can seem to be blind to everybody around him, but he seems to be growing up a bit as he ages afield. Maybe, though, he thinks that aging process is going at hyper-speed. He was sacked 56 times last season, and he was sacked six times and hit 16 more times this season against the New Orleans Saints.
When you spew something indelicate toward your boss, even if he’s stories above you in the press box, it might come from real anger.
‘Brilliant, brilliant guy’
It’s almost midseason, and the Bears are starting to have their complaints. Safety Chris Harris feels unwanted, unloved and unsure. Snippy linebacker Lance Briggs wants more money for himself and — good Samaritan that he is — for underpaid running back Matt Forte.
Anybody else upset? Do we care?
What the players always find out, at varying rates of discovery, is that the NFL is a cutthroat business. They want it to be a game, and the awareness of deception can be painful for them.
That’s the biz.
‘‘It’s just football,’’ Martz said. ‘‘[Jay and I] both have a great passion for what we’re talking about. I don’t know where this is going or why, but there’s . . . ’’
And then Martz chuckled again.
So this reporter had to ask him if it was necessary for an offensive coordinator and his quarterback to be best friends.
‘‘No, for crying out loud,’’ Martz replied. ‘‘No, no, no. . . . He’s been terrific. I’ve got no complaints about him at all. He’s a brilliant, brilliant guy.’’
Like in IQ, or what?
‘‘Yes, everything,’’ Martz said. ‘‘He picks things up so quickly, and he understands concepts immediately. I get halfway, and he’s, ‘Mmm-hmm, I got it.’ He knows what you’re talking about.’’
Then Cutler must be smart enough to know what a vulgar four-letter word that starts with ‘‘f’’ means.
And he’s gotta know about microphones at nationally televised NFL games.
So he must know his message to anybody, anywhere, eventually will be delivered.
That’s football, right?