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CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears on the sideline in the third quarter after leaving the game with an injury against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler's character and gusto has long been questioned.
Even coming out of Vanderbilt in the 2006 NFL Draft, Cutler had some questions raised about his leadership and general attitude. Even still, the Broncos picked him No. 11 overall in the draft and he appeared to be the next John Elway for a while.
Then, all the wheels came off. He butted heads with Josh McDaniels when he was brought in as head coach prior to the 2009 season and was ultimately traded to the Bears for Kyle Orton before even playing a game under McDaniels.
On Sunday, all those questions about Cutler were brought up again. "Sometime in the first half" of the NFC title game at Soldier Field against the Green Bay Packers, Cutler suffered an odd knee injury.
He was never seen getting worked on on the sideline, never really showed any signs of pain, he was just "hurt". He was also terrible. He completed just 6 of 14 passes for 80 yards and a pick.
Now, reports are coming out that Cutler suffered a torn MCL, an injury that isn't all that catastrophic for the average joe, but for NFL player it makes it pretty difficult to plant and cut, both of which an NFL quarterback must do. So he gets a free pass there, but it still doesn't excuse his history and his awful play on the biggest stage of his career.
After attempting to play a series in the third quarter, he came out and was relieved by backup QB Todd Collins. That went even worse. That forced the Bears to bring in third stringer Caleb Hanie, a former Forney Jackrabbit, who almost led the most improbable comeback in NFL history by leading the Bears on two fourth-quarter scoring drives and nearly a third while the Packers' offense stumbled.
Perhaps the Washington Post put it best when in a column on Monday, Tracee Hamilton said the 25-year-old third stringer out of Colorado State "was this close to being [able] to drink free in Chicago for life." And she was right. All of this happened while Cutler was standing on the sideline, all by himself, just watching.
In postgame interviews on FOX, Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews basically said they would've been better off had Cutler not gotten hurt, and how Hanie almost sent them packing in a game that they dominated for much of the day.
Is there a QB controversy in Chicago? Probably not. But Cutler's poor play and subsequent, but no longer mysterious injury, coupled with Hanie's near-storybook performance made things interesting for at least a day.