Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A thought or two on Jay Cutler

Because everyone and their mother has offered their two cents. I've offered many tweets on the situation since Sunday, but allow me to just say this.

I'm not what you would call a Jay Cutler fan. I think he's rubbed a lot of people (myself included) the wrong way with his attitude in the past. I'm positive he thinks he's a bigger deal than he really is. He's not an elite NFL Quarterback, but then again not many are.

None of this has anything to do with what occurred on Sunday.

Jay Cutler suffered a Grade 2 MCL tear during the second quarter of the NFC Championship Game. He played one series before halftime on the bum knee. He had the knee worked on at halftime. He played one series in the second half and was removed from the game by his coaches and team medical staff.

He did everything he could to be there for his team. He did his job, although not very well during the time period he was healthy in that game, and then the coaches and trainers did theirs. It's really no more complicated than that.

But that doesn't stop the parade of bloggers/writers who allow the emotions to overtake their sensibilities and the fans/players with meatball mentalities who think football is a real war and football players are real heroes from ripping him apart. It's amazing how many of these people exist.

Not amazing, actually. That's a positive word. It's disappointing and downright scary how many of these people exist.

Joking about his toughness. Fine, whatever. That comes with the territory. It's the people who can't separate sports from real life, who dead seriously believe that Jay Cutler quit on his team that scare me. It's the ham-n-eggers outside Soldier Field that burn his uniform that scare me. Some of these people have kids. Does that not scare you?

And then you have the vengeful bloggers, writers, analysts and players who hate Jay Cutler with an unhealthy passion. Whatever he did after sustaining that injury, these people would have twisted his actions to reflect poorly on him.

Cutler is removed from the game by the coaches and medical staff = he's a coward and a quitter.

Cutler stands on the sidelines with crutches = he's a drama queen.

Cutler is allowed to play through the injury and hurts his team = he's an egomaniac.

I promise you these people would have found a way to smear his name. It wasn't about truth or reality, it was personal. These people, especially the football players, fit my definition of cowards and tools far more than Cutler does.

Jay Cutler proved his toughness to me. He's a lot of things I don't like, but I promise you he's not a quitter.

I watched every damn play of every Bears game this season. I saw the shit-kicking he took every week. I watched him play a quarter in New York with a concussion. I watched him pick himself up every time he could and go back to the huddle. He never quit.

Why would he take that pounding all season only to quit now, in the biggest game of his life? It's illogical and it's bullshit. If he was the man these people want and need you to believe he is, he wouldn't have played that entire meaningless game in Week 17 at Green Bay. A game in which he was pummeled relentlessly.

It's bullshit he has to deal with all this backlash, but at the end of the day, maybe it's just what he needed to help him grow up on and off the field. And wouldn't it be ironic if the people who so desperately want to tear him down actually assisted in that process.

The way he responds to this situation is what I truly believe will define him. I don't know which way that will go, but I think we're about eight months away from having a really good understanding of the heights or depths of Jay Cutler's character and his potential on the field.

I think I like Carney Lansford

I knew I respected Lansford for his past successes on the field, but two paragraphs in Dave Krieger's column this morning made me think I'm really going to like him as the Rockies new hitting coach.

From the Denver Post.
"When I came up as a rookie in 1978, Don Baylor took me under his wing and taught me how to play the game of baseball the right way — old school-type baseball. So I have nothing but respect for him," Lansford told me.
Don was an awful hitting coach.

I'm sorry. Helluva guy. Helluva player. Terrible hitting coach to not be able to get more out of the talent he had to work with. Guys were actually regressing to the point of no return if a change wasn't made.

Now the good part.
"But my approach is totally different. Don was a pull-type hitter. I like my hitters to use the entire field. In my opinion, that makes them much tougher outs. Nobody likes home runs more than me, but trying to force a home run, trying to swing for a home run every at-bat, doesn't work. What it does is make you very easy to pitch to."
Amen. A hitting coach that understands the basics of hitting.

I don't know how many times myself and other Rockies fans pointed out Colorado's inability to use the whole damn field. It seems like such a simple and obvious approach, but the 2010 Rockies lost sight of that time and time again, leading to several extended offensive slumps that sabotaged their season.

Lansford has identified this problem. It probably didn't take him long to do so thanks to the miles of ugly video tape Rockies hitters left behind. He understands what needs to be corrected. Now we all have to hope he can recover and reprogram these young hitters.

Chris Iannetta. Ian Stewart. Seth Smith. These guys don't need to be pull conscious to park balls in the seats. They just need to take what they're given, drive it where it's meant to be driven, and watch the stats pile up.

Singles. Doubles. Triples. Sac flys. Walks. Those aren't bad either. Just don't open yourself up to being that easy out the Rockies were far too often in 2010, especially in money situations.

It may take awhile to see positive results, and even longer to see them sustained on a fairly consistent basis, but just reading what I've read here gives me a lot hope that this offense won't underachieve again.

This offense can and will be dynamic if Lansford can successfully flush out Don Baylor's philosophies.

I believe it.