Throughout his career, Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler has always found his way onto “Most Disliked Athletes” or “Most Polarizing Athletes” lists. Everyone knows he’s never been very fond of the media, and never helped himself on the field either.
There have been audio bits of him cussing out coaches — most notably Mike Martz (who, let’s be fair, was a horrible OC as his system only worked with an offense that had five HOFs) — yelling at or shoving his offensive lineman or even sulking on the sideline after he was hit for the umpteenth time and had another possession stalled.
Oh, and who doesn’t love the Smokin’ Jay Cutler memes? Yeah … Those didn’t help his case any; not that they were his fault, but still.
However, last season was somehow different. During this offseason, camp and preseason, it’s continued and actually been very apparent that Cutler is a different person — a new man, if you will. And his teammates and coaches have taken notice.
“I think everyone in the building has noticed a difference in Jay,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said according to ESPN. “None of us knew Jay very well before getting here last year, and we worked through the year and that first year is always hard on everybody. But what I see in Jay Cutler right now is a guy that’s the leading the group; a guy that is approachable, and is working to make everybody better because he realizes it’s important that everybody is on the same page with him.”
Wideout and Cutler’s close friend Brandon Marshall echoed similar sentiments, saying that Cutler had “a great balance in life,” and because of which, he was a “totally different person.” Even Santonio Holmes, who was just signed this past week, has said Cutler’s already taken him “under his wing.” In fact, it was reported Cutler started working with Holmes within an hour of him signing his contract as they went out and started practicing plays and running routes.
This doesn’t sound like the Cutler of old, does it? Rather, No. 6 has finally seemed to mature and become the leader he always needed to be. He wasn’t shown yelling at or demeaning any fellow teammates or coaches last season or early this year. Surprisingly, most of the time you find him smiling with teammates or studying closely with them and coaches on the sidelines during games or at practice.
But why has Cutler all of sudden changed for the better, and, dare I say it, started to be seen in a positive light by fans and the media?
First of all, look at the team around him. No longer is J’Marcus Webb his left tackle. No longer is Devin Hester his “No. 1” wideout. No longer is Ron Turner, Martz or Mike Tice calling the plays for him.
Instead he has a strong offensive line, genius playcaller in head coach Marc Trestman — whom he trusts — and fantastic receiving targets in guys like Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. He has the best supporting cast of his career, and he can finally play in an offense that promotes success from the entire unit, and not just one where he has to make everything happen himself.
But there are other influences. They’re off the field, but they can’t be understated how important they are.
He got married several years ago and now has two children. Being a father makes you grow up and changes you.
And don’t forget about his health. He’s had diabetes for a while, but remember when he played for the Denver Broncos or first got to Chicago? He was kinda chubby, had that whole double-chin going on. But today? Now he’s taking care of himself and it’s easily noticeable — Cutler is in the best shape of his life. Don’t for one second think that hasn’t been a positive factor in him becoming a more cheerful and confident quarterback and leader, and it is also just another sign of his maturity.
Cutler is in a great place right now, and because of that, so are the Chicago Bears. I have complete faith we’re finally going to see Cutler have that season where he puts it all together in 2014. He’s finally going to prove all of his doubters wrong, and show that he is capable of being a franchise QB.