In sports, we are often very willing to dismiss or forget great performances which contributed to a loss and amplify simply good or just OK performances that contributed to a victory, because sometimes that's the best and easiest narrative.
With that in mind, I'd like to defy that adage and tout Jay Cutler's completely brilliant game against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.
Perspective after the jump.
In his Tuesday morning game recap, my SBN Chicago colleague Ricky O'Donnell made an interesting point, re: Jay Cutler's Chicago tenure.
From the day Cutler arrived here, he was painted as a savior. He was thought to be the final piece of the puzzle. In essence, he was only the first. Three years later and this team still has a ways to go.
Last night made that abundantly clear. Bears fans watching such a sloppy, disappointing contest certainly had the right be dispirited, disenchanted and even downright disgusted. But 12 hours removed from the final whistle, I almost have a good taste in my mouth.
Because even in a loss, Jay Cutler had a transcendent performance.
Though I watched him play a great game, I thought the numbers might not necessarily reflect what I saw. I didn't think they'd be awful by any means, but I still expected to have to defend them a little bit. But that's not really the case. He went 28/38 for one touchdown, 249 yards and a QB rating of 99.6. I'll concede those numbers aren't eye popping, but if you saw the game, you know.
The Bears lost, but Jay Cutler overcame. He overcame nine false starts, three sacks, turnstile block after turnstile block, drops from his pass catchers, Devin Hester running a kickoff out of bounds inside the Bears 10 yard-line and a relentless Detroit crowd, who spent the game absolutely jacked to have the spotlight shined back on their city.
This might sound hyperbolic, but I'm not sure any QB in the NFL outside of Aaron Rodgers or -- this will sound insane -- Cam Newton could have done what Jay Cutler did. Potentially Drew Brees. But certainly not Tom Brady or a healthy Peyton Manning (not enough mobility) or Mike Vick (not enough durability). Cutler used his unique skill set (ability to get up after big hits, adequate movement in and out of the pocket, and his rifle of an arm) to keep the Bears afloat on Monday time and time again. The escapism was mind boggling, the throws were gorgeous.
In sports, 'courageous' gets thrown around way too often, but it is a word that popped into my head more than a few times. It was very easy to think "why would you possibly take the field on drive after drive, knowing what was waiting for you on the other side of the ball?" How could Jay not be thinking about throwing in the towel, seeing Ndamukong Suh and co.'s relentlessness, play after play after play. But he didn't. Cutler put the Bears in the best possible position to win, despite complete implosion by his team around him. He made a blowout game competitive. And in loss, he gave the Bears definitive hope.
That's a god damn franchise quarterback.
I'm out. Bullets.
Things that are completely resolved after last night:
- Anyone, anywhere who is still ragging on Cutler sitting out the second half of the 2011 NFC Championship has no case. That's done. Your case was on life support to begin with, and now, it's dead and buried.
- The Cutler-Orton debate is over. Jay Cutler is an NFL starter. Kyle Orton was just benched for a third-string, left-handed, college QB.
- The Bears need players. A lot of them. And as Ricky also said, they have a mammoth amount of cap space to make that happen. That's on the organization.
Bobby Loesch is the assistant editor of Tremendous Upside Potential and a weekly contributor at SB Nation Chicago. He can be reached at bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy.