The best plays in all of football are ones that use misdirection. If set up properly and initiated at the right time, they are difficult to stop and can be very effective.
On Saturday night against the Bills, Jay Cutler had an average game in his Chicago Bears debut which was immediately followed by public outcry and national media attention. Sensing an opportunity to capture the attention of readers, the Chicago media as well as news outlets like ESPN, began writing stories claiming that Cutler failed to live up to expectations and that he essentially flopped in his debut.
Such headlines included:
- Jay Cutler doesn’t impress in Chicago Bears debut
- Reality intrudes as Jay Cutler proves human in Chicago Bears debut
- Jay Cutler underwhelms in Bears opener
- Cutler stumbles in Chicago debut
- Bears fall to Buffalo in Cutler’s mediocre debut
… and so on and so forth. You get the idea.
It was the first preseason game. What did all these media outlets expect him to do? Go 15-for-15 for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns?
As if that wasn’t enough to stir up controversy, the media decided to make a fuss over a comment that Cutler made after the game directed at his top wide receiver, Devin Hester.
Said Cutler: “Devin is more of a go-get-it guy; he is not really a back shoulder or jump-up-and-get-it (guy). You learn from it.
“We made some mistakes. It’s the first preseason game. Luckily enough, we have some time to correct them and keep going.”
This is kind of the “how full is the glass?” question. Are you a half-empty or hall-full kind of person? Did you interpret that quote as Cutler saying Hester made a mistake and should have come back to the ball to at least try to bat it down? Or did you see it like I did, that Cutler is saying he and his receivers are still learning from each other and it’s a work in progress?
The media, of course, had to get Devin Hester’s opinion on the comments, and whether or not he was offended by them. His response: “I was when I read it, but then he said he didn’t say it. You can’t go with what the papers say. You’ve got to go to the source and see what really happened, and he told me he didn’t say none of that. What Jay told me, he said that he didn’t mean I wasn’t a go-up-and-get-a-jump-ball type guy, but I was one of those guys you’ve got to throw it out there and then go get it.”
Asking Hester’s opinion is often like asking one from a child: the response is usually unintelligible and incoherent. So it’s not a head-scratcher that he said he was at first offended by Cutler’s remarks. But what he said actually did make sense and that is to say that Cutler knew he should have aired it out more instead of throwing a jump ball because the percentages would have been more favorable if he had laid it out there deeper.
Even though all seems to be cleared up now between Cutler and Hester and the memories from the first preseason game are rapidly fading away, the Bears certainly needed a change of subject. It wasn’t a good thing for the development of the team under Cutler’s watch if they were constantly being scrutinized and dissected daily.
Fortunately, that “misdirection play” they needed came in the form of an old rival.
Brett Favre came out of retirement for the second straight year and signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday. That alone was newsworthy enough to shift the attention off of Cutler’s performance on Saturday and onto the Vikings, whom some are calling “the team to beat in the NFC.” But the circus didn’t just stop there. Our neighbors to the north took offense to Favre’s introductory press conference comments and began flooding the Wisconsin airways with angry, hate-filled calls.
Here’s what Favre said as the reason why he signed with the rival Vikings, which angered Packers fans:
“If you’re a true Packer fan, you understand.”
Frankly, I don’t see what the problem is with those comments, but that didn’t stop the foam-cheese-wearin’, orange-jumpsuit-donnin’, Vince-Lombardi-worshippin’ Packers fans from crying foul.
In an article by Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson, he lists excerpts from callers who phoned into radio stations to voice their complaints. Here’s a short blurb from Robinson’s article that I find kind of humorous:
One caller said he’d confiscated all the pieces of clothing in his house emblazoned with Favre’s number. Another woman said she had removed Favre’s autographed picture from her wall and banished it behind her couch.
I want to know if all those fans who named their first born sons, Brett, legally changed their sons’ names to Aaron, or just started calling their children by their middle names.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the ongoing saga between the Vikings and Favre and the Packers. All it means is that the negative press that Cutler was getting is all but vanquished. In fact, I encourage the media to continue to hype this burgeoning feud between Favre and the Packers and draw out this rivalry between the Vikings and Packers for as long as possible. In fact, I hope they write stories calling the NFC North a two-horse race. Because the fact is that the Bears are at their best when they’re flying under the radar and playing the underdog role.
If nothing else, at least we don’t have to listen to the negativity and pessimism about Cutler from the local media.