Watching the game yesterday between the Bears and the Packers, I was dreading what I figured would be a great performance from Jay Cutler–my Bronco heart, I was certain, would have to deal with Jay Cutler in the Super Bowl … playing for another team. Yet another reminder of how a once-promising offense was essentially gutted by the brash Josh McDaniels.
But then reality kicked in. Thank God.
Jay Cutler is, at best, an inconsistent quarterback with a quality arm and a confidence that comes from somewhere inexplicable. It would be one thing if his gambles regularly paid off–that would explain his desire to continue going back to the well. But he’s thick-headed (which is also evident thanks to some recent press in the Denver Post that reveals more of the details from the Cutler trade in 2009), and stubborn. Worse, he’s a pouter.
And, now he’s got an off-season of rehab in front him, and images of former Colorado State QB Caleb Hanie moving the ball, largely at will, against the Packers defense on Sunday to motivate him.
At the time, I was livid with McDaniels for trading Cutler, and even more upset with Pat Bowlen for letting it happen. The above-mentioned article sheds a bit more light on the situation, but I remain skeptical of the trade that essentially started the Broncos decline. I think Cutler remains a quality talent–whether he becomes a quality quarterback is, essentially up to him. His attitude is pathetic. His coachability is in question. The comparisons to Jeff George are starting to have some merit, it would appear.
As a Bronco fan, I’m relieved that Cutler won’t be playing in a Super Bowl (call it jealousy… it fits). At the same time, I’m starting to see some of the character traits that might have encouraged Bowlen to let McDaniels make the trade. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven Josh McDaniels–his use of the picks he got in the Cutler trade are questionable, and his decision to make Tim Tebow a first-round pick, when I think most would agree Tebow would have been on the board a round later, was certainly suspect.
I love the energy, emotion and leadership potential from Tim Tebow (and I think, if I keep publicly doubting his ability to captain a football team to a title, he might actually do it). I do think the Broncos draft in 2010 was essentially wasted, however. Now, with John Fox publicly opening up the starting job to competition, and noting Tebow is still “developmental,” it makes me wonder even more about the direction the Broncos were headed before McDaniels was shown the door. My suspicion is that Denver was on its way to long-term losing, and in danger of becoming an NFL doormat for years to come.
Had Cutler not been traded, and had the offense that was in place in 2008 been kept together, I have a feeling Denver might have been in representing the AFC West in the playoffs in 2010, and perhaps 2009–assuming McDaniels had paid even marginal attention to an ailing defense. We’ll never really know.
What we do know, however, is that Fox has a legitimate rebuilding job in front of him, starting with the defense and continuing with a significant question mark at QB. Given that a labor dispute may delay the 2011 season and keep Fox and his staff from implementing any new offensive strategies, and from working with Tebow to improve his “developmental” status, it’s probably wise to keep Kyle Orton around one more year. The labor dispute between players and ownership couldn’t come at a worse time for the Broncos–this off-season is key to working with Tebow under a new coaching regime, and that, at best, will be delayed weeks. At worst, it might not happen at all.
Cutler, on the other hand, will have some quality time to rehabilitate his knee and, for the Bears’ sake, his attitude.