Farewell to Jay Cutler? It didn’t have to go down like this


As a Green Bay Packers fan, I have been telling the joke ever since Jay Cutler signed his blockbuster contract with the Chicago Bears earlier this year. It goes like this:

Q: How could the Bears afford to pay Cutler $126 million?

A: Because the Packers offered to pay half.

It’s true, Cutler has been brutal against the Packers over the last six years. He’s 1-11 in that time, with 21 interceptions. Brutal barely covers it. And he hasn’t been much better this year against any team; the Bears are 5-9 and well out of playoff contention.

Last year at season’s end, they were ousted on a last-minute touchdown heave from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb. This season, they’ll likely spend Christmas wishing week 17 would go away, and much of it admittedly must be lain at the feet of the team’s highly-paid signal caller.

But now, to add insult to all the injury, the Bears have announced that Cutler has been benched in favor of journeyman Jimmy Clausen.

Don’t get me wrong, Cutler has not earned his keep – especially the $54 million in guaranteed money his contract provides him. He’s not just ineffective on the field, he’s also a sullen, finger-pointing wreck.

He’s been questioned by the fans and the media. Sometimes even his own teammates have hinted that they expect more.

The latest fallout came when offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer disparaged Cutler to an NFL Network reporter, then later admitted to doing so in a team meeting. Then came the benching, which apparently left many Bears players feeling confused and uncomfortable.”

“Wait a minute, Jay. You’re making HOW much?” Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

My point in all this is that, well, as bad as Cutler has been and as annoying as he continues to be on so many levels, benching him right now for Clausen, in the middle of this dumpster fire that is the Bears’ 2014 season, is just pouring salt on a gaping wound. It’s public humiliation at its finest. The bus approaches, and Cutler is directly under it.

Head coach Marc Trestman is behind this train wreck of a team, as is general manager Phil Emery.

From the outside looking in, it appears they’ve created a roster and an atmosphere in which failure was the only alternative.

Then they sign a talented but underachieving quarterback to a deal that rivals that of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, seasoned pros who have already proven themselves, and expect him to magically transform into them and carry the load. When he doesn’t?

He takes the blame.

Scapegoat, thy name is Jay Cutler.

I’m no Cutler apologist, but having worked in environments in which I got repeatedly thrown under the bus (albeit for a LOT less money), I feel for the guy.

No, I don’t feel badly that he will be making roughly $1.5 million this Sunday to hold Jimmy Clausen’s clipboard for him, but to be publicly flayed like this is just wrong.

Hasn’t the guy suffered enough public humiliation?

I won’t miss Cutler’s pouting, and I won’t miss blame-others demeanor. But I will miss all those interceptions and nearly automatic wins whenever the Packers took the field against the Bears.

Who knows, maybe he’ll be back.

If not, here’s hoping Clausen sticks around for a while and is just as bad against the Packers as Cutler has been.