Jay Cutler seems like a dick. Often. And no matter how he plays, fans and media are largely convinced that Cutler is what they think he is: a dick.
But for the Bears to go anywhere this season, the team doesn’t need Cutler to find his inner Joel Osteen. They don’t need him to be kind and comforting. What they need Cutler to be is a bigger dick—or, more precisely, to channel his dickishness and let it fly all over the football field.
Aside from momentary glimpses—see Rivers v. Cutler, 2007 and Cutler v. Martz, 2011—Jay has remained locked for a decade in lazy dick mode: eyelids perpetually hooded, left-hand corner of lip continually sucked in, and face ambivalently frozen in five o’clock shadow. Jay Cutler’s soul is wearing sweatpants, socks, and flip-flops, and shuffling dispassionately around inside Jay Cutler’s body waiting for orders from Jay Cutler’s brain.
Jay needs to start giving orders. He needs to harness and exude his dickishness.
Great QBs exude.
Steve Young was a true-believing scout leader; Joe Montana a time-stopping sensei; Tom Brady a metrosexual messiah; Peyton Manning a four-star general; and Eli Manning a deer-stand waiting hunter, happy to stink up the joint ‘til the killshot comes into view.
Jay doesn’t exude; he just lightly rubs himself on stuff. He’s an inward fart, and Bears fans are bloated enough already from a near-millennium of mediocre quarterbacking and ready for Cutler to start shitting on people. It’s time to go full asshole.
Now I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it too:
Have you ever met Jay? If not, why besmirch his character?
No, I’ve never met Jay. I am an armchair quarterback-coach. But let’s be clear about what we’re analyzing: not a private person, but a public persona and the application of said on the football field. I don’t care about the private Jay, and neither should you. Simpler: Privately, Jay Cutler might be a soulful dude, and if he wants to grab some beers I’ll perform proper due diligence. But based on the available evidence, Public Jay Cutler leans toward the dickish-side of the personality spectrum.
This isn’t about his character; it’s about a character.
Won’t his teammates hate him? How does dickishness = wins?
No. And it can. Being a dick and being liked aren’t mutually exclusive, and here are some popular and #winning dicks:
Then there’s someone like former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, a seemingly super-duper guy and Hall-of-Fame bridesmaid. Does Bills kicker Scott Norwood miss wide right in Super Bowl XXV if he’s worried about Kelly’s fist in his ass? Maybe. But does Jeff Saturday remember to pass-fucking-block next time Peyton calls an up-and-out?
Why would you want a person to be an asshole?
I wouldn’t. I’d prefer Cutler be more like Steve Young; a quarterback who put entire 49ers teams on his back and promised, with clear eyes and a full heart, to lead.
But that’s not a natural character for Jay to play, in the same way Michael Jordan wasn’t fit to play catcher in the rye. Michael was a monster; a kraken unleashed on everybody, collateral damage be damned. Unfortunately, like a method actor, Michael can’t shake that role, and without a basketball in his hands he’s just a Hall-of-Fame jerk. But as a player, MJ committed to something. So did Magic Johnson, as pied piper, Lawrence Taylor, as assassin, and Tiger Woods, as demigod.
From where I sit, Cutler hasn’t committed to being anything but half-a-loaf.
How does Cutler go about channeling his dickishness?
First, embrace. We all remember Cutler’s sideline routine during the 2011 NFC Championship and the ensuing venom spewed from all corners of the Twitterverse. Somehow he could stand under his own power, but couldn’t play? Medical science aside, the optics were difficult to stomach. And what was just as painful was seeing guys like Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester have to convince media hordes that “the Jay they know isn’t the Jay we see.” As a leader, once you need emissaries to make that argument, you’ve already lost. See: Mitt Romney.
The lesson: there is something impenetrably unlikable about No. 6, and even his new show-hosting, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” man-of-the-people schtick this summer can’t fool anybody. Own your oeuvre, Jay.
Second, immerse. Spend a few days with A.J. Pierzynski. Read up on the Oakland Raiders, the Miami Hurricanes, and the Detroit Pistons. Learn about Mark Zuckerberg. And realize that division-foil Aaron Rodgers had one of the cockiest touchdown-moves ever—before he won anything—and grandmothers across the Midwest still get moist when they hear his name.
Third, make a statement in Game One against the Indianapolis Colts—a weak, rebuilding team—that shows Chicago that the Bears aren’t Urlacher’s team, or Forte’s team, or even Marshall’s team. Run up the score. Take your cleats off at the 2-minute warning. Order a hot dog and hand-deliver it to Andrew Luck.
Carpe diem, Cutler. Show us something.