Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and the media's fascination with stories that aren't really stories, football enthusiasts were forced to suffer through meaningless footage of Jay Cutler entering Chicago's Soldier Field Sunday morning, followed by Tom Jackson's subsequent outrage over Cutler purportedly not greeting stadium personnel on his way into the stadium.
Normally level-headed, the ESPN analyst was disgusted, bothered enough to use 30 seconds of ESPN airtime to criticize Cutler's stadium entry. To summarize: Jackson watched footage of Cutler walking into a football stadium in his street clothes and then analyzed it.
“Jay Cutler ... passes by people he sees every single week, and he does not say a word to them. It doesn't mean anything, it's just something,” vented Jackson, whose impassioned soliloquy clearly meant that Cutler's mundane walking routine actually did mean something to him.
Deadpsin revisited the clip and found that Cutler did in fact gesture an oblique hello to a staff member, but that is neither here nor there. What is relevant -- ESPN, take note -- is that trivial occurrences like this need not be reported and that Cutler, following his string of successes this season, should be celebrated, not heedlessly shamed.
Understandably, Cutler's past on-field interactions have been less-than-stellar (no player, even the best, should ever shove teammates or ignore coaches). This aside -- where it should be -- no reputation should continually proceed a player and distort the media's coverage of him.
This season, Cutler has been absolutely fantastic. That doesn't mean you'll particularly want to tune in and catch the Bears offense, which is like watching Terrence Malick movies on loop. But Cutler and the team's passing attack has been fatally precise this year.
Brandon Marshall is a tremendous receiver, and he and Cutler have developed formidable chemistry this season, enough to pepper opposing defenses with short and effective cross and out routes.
Besides that, Cutler doesn't have much in the way of weapons, and his offensive live has been decimated by injuries. More often than not, pass rushers flush Cutler out of the pocket and force him to throw on the run. Sometimes he throws off his back foot. Sometimes he slings the ball unconventionally. The common thread is that Cutler has gotten the job done by whatever means necessary. He doesn't put up Brees-like numbers, but the Bears are winning behind him (by comparison, they're 2-6 when he's on the bench).
Some call for MVP consideration, and you can make the argument. Sure, Cutler's TD/INT ratio isn't at a “most valuable” level, nor is his quarterback rating nor his completion percentage, but the oft-criticized quarterback has led the Bears to eight wins and first place in the NFC North. He does what the team's needs him to do to win, and he has been the most valuable player on that team. That's what should matter, not a 30-second pot shot over a meaningless exchange in a team parking lot.