It was refreshing to see Miami fans welcome Jay Cutler with a warm ovation. The respect the fan base showed to its new quarterback was heartfelt and respectful; it was also new, to Cutler at least.
A lot is made of bringing quarterbacks along and giving them a chance to start their careers properly. Placing too much pressure on young shoulders, however competent, can lead to the frequent phenomenon of the first-round-quarterback-never-was. In this regard, Cutler was immediately set up to fail.
Drafted in the first round at #11 overall, Cutler left Denver's fan base puzzled. The team had made it to the AFC Championship game with fan favorite Jake Plummer the previous season. Fans thought the Broncos would use their picks to upgrade a few fringe positions and make another run behind the charismatic everyman quarterback who was a Southwestern regional hero due to his fine career at ASU and for the Cardinals. Trading up for Cutler cost a 1st and a 3rd round pick and seemingly added nothing to the on field product.
Plummer felt betrayed. Who knows what sort of locker room Cutler walked into. His coach, Mike Shannahan, liked what he saw and decided to start Cutler in game 12. The Broncos were 7-4, and Plummer was healthy. This was as high pressure an opening to a career as a player could have. Cutler went 2-3, showing amazing upside but also growing pains. The team missed the playoffs, and in many senses, fan resentment was already baked in.
During the next season, Cutler showed all of the statistical improvement that could be desired in a second year quarterback, finishing in the top half of passers in the league (12th.) In fact, he opened the season 3-0 with 8 touchdown passes. However, the Broncos again missed the playoffs with a winning record. Shannahan was fired and Josh McDaniel, perhaps the least prepared head coach in history, landed a job that was far too big for him. McDaniel catered to the fan base, insinuating he would shop Cutler. Hurt, Cutler sold his house and insisted on a trade. A fresh start seemed in order; he didn't get one.
In an eerie carbon copy, Cutler replaced a local hero with limited talent but great heart and charisma, this time Kyle Orton. Beloved by the Bears fan base because he had rescued the team from an over-priced glamor boy (Rex Grossman), Orton left town with a first and third round pick. Fans felt betrayed and that the Bears had over payed. Again, Cutler came to a team in need of valuable parts that had surrendered picks to get him. Again, he had to win a locker room from one of the most popular players on the roster. Again, Cutler performed, and again he was treated with lukewarm semi-affection by a fan base that never got over his origin with the team. Perhaps a good looking kid from the SEC with a monster arm was too reminiscent of Grossman. Cutler won, without protection, without a defense, and without a running game. Bears fans and media responded with amusing memes and merciless press coverage.
So Jay Cutler retired, and it seemed football was done. And then the remarkable happened, and he walked onto the field the other night and heard something equally remarkable: gratitude.
As I have written elsewhere, when Cutler went down injured with the Bears his replacements went a combined 1-8. In games he started in those same seasons, Cutler was 17-7. His replacements played behind they same line, handed to the same backs, threw to the same receivers.
I think Miami fans knew what they were doing when they got to their feet last night. And i think Jay Cutler probably thought that he had finally arrived in the style he has always deserved.
Home » Unlabelled » Cutler Has Something in Miami He's Never Had Before: A Warm Welcome
Friday, August 18, 2017
Posted by Jay Lopez