Cutler's “Smugness” A Strength, Not a Liability for the Bears

The re-minted Bears starter rubs media and some fans the wrong way with his brash personality

Despite the fact that Jay Cutler is the best quarterback the Chicago Bears have had in a long time, the media and a good chunk of the fanbase in the Windy City seems to only want to focus on one thing: Cutler’s aloof personality.

Frequently, people make comments about how “smug” Cutler is, or they say that he acts as though he doesn’t really care about what anyone thinks about him. That detachment and so-called lack of fire seems to drive pundits and fans alike crazy, and it’s a personality trait that Cutler has shown no signs of getting rid of.

That’s where Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh comes in. In his Thursday column about the Bears’ quarterback, Haugh calls Cutler “smug” and goes into great detail about what he thinks of the newly re-minted starter.

Here is an excerpt from the piece:

“In his last five starts, McCown threw one interception compared with 10 touchdown passes and goes to the bench as the league’s third-highest rated passer. Cutler’s reluctance to fully embrace McCown’s career renaissance as tightly as, well, everybody else showed how sensitive he is to the notion McCown might be a smarter option…

“Not only is Cutler’s ankle 100 percent, but clearly his ego is as healthy as ever. Where McCown’s enthusiasm put a skip in the step of the Bears’ offense, Cutler’s attitude marks the return of its swagger. Cutler’s condescending nonchalance, a stark contrast to McCown’s refreshing modesty, also suggested Cutler senses as much pressure Sunday against the Browns as any regular-season game he has played as a Bear.”

There are two things that stand out about Haugh’s column. The first is that it is amusing to watch a guy who has been in the media for a long time act shocked and appalled that a professional athlete is so confident in himself that he dismisses notions that he could be sacked for the other guy if he gets off to a slow start on Sunday. Guys like Michael Jordan never put on a veneer of modesty, and scribes like Haugh ate it up because Jordan was the biggest star in town.

Bears fans should WANT Cutler strutting around Halas Hall thinking, as Brandon Marshall put it during a Monday interview, that “he is the smartest guy in the room,” and believe firmly that he is the only one capable of carrying the Bears’ offense to the playoffs.

One part of Haugh’s column is dead-on, however, and that’s the part about this being arguably the most pressure-filled regular season game Cutler has faced in his Bears career. The scrutiny he’ll get from fans and writers alike if he ends up blowing his chance on Sunday is going to be one thing, but Cutler is also surely going to put some really high expectations on himself as he makes his return from injury. He knows that the Bears need a big offensive push in order to knock off the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and if he isn’t on top of his game, then obviously the Bears won’t be able to get that.

This Haugh column has been written in some form or another for just about Cutler’s entire tenure in Chicago, and there isn’t anything particularly shocking about any of it. Haugh’s deliberate use of adjectives like “condescending” and “smug” is meant to convey that there is something wrong or at the very least undesirable about Cutler’s behavior, but just like a tiger can’t change its stripes, Cutler is never going to be the bubbly personality guy in the locker room. He is always going to be the rich kid who had all the pretty girls in high school sitting at his lunch table, and the sooner Haugh and others that share his opinion realize that there’s nothing wrong with this, the better off they’ll be.

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