On the John
Here comes Cutler! (and Pace!) (and conversation!)
Originally published on the readjack.com blog April 3, 2009
The text message came in at 4:43 Thursday afternoon from Ben. It said:
So, I thought, we got Jay Cutler.
Sure enough, ESPN.com confirmed:
Cutler Headed to Chicago
Like most Bears fans who follow the news, I’d spent the past few weeks mulling over the cons and pros of collecting the Denver signal caller. Now, having heard it certain (barring a physical), I began examining his statistics with a newly-critical eye. He did not seem necessarily better than a healthy Kyle Orton, but there it is: in Cutler’s two seasons as the Broncos starting quarterback, he has started and then finished all 16 games. No Bears QB has gone back-to-back on fully healthy seasons since Bob Avellini went 14 for 14 in 1976 and 1977. Only four Bears have done it in a 16 game season. None did it again.
So that seemed positive. Then I saw that they were giving up two first rounders to get him, and just as I was getting set to call Ben and discuss the deal, my phone rang. Brian Glickman—big Bears fan.
I laughed as I answered. “Afternoon sir.”
“Well…what do you think?”
“Seems alright. I liked Orton. Cutler seems…healthier.”
“And better.” He paused. “What about the first rounders? I guess the idea is that Angelo’s record on first rounders is so brutal anyhow.”
“Plus they’re costly. And that’s even more vital now. And Angelo or no Angelo, the success rate of first rounders still isn’t that impressive. And with this defense, we kind of have to win now anyways. Now’s the time. I don’t care all that much about first rounders, even the next two.”
“We still need receivers.”
“We don’t need receivers so much as we need to learn how to use receivers. Do you realize that all five receivers from the ’05 team were terrific for other teams last year? Berrian and Wade were 1-2 in Minnesota, Gage led Tennessee, Moose was second in Carolina…”
“Cutler throws a nice deep ball. Hester will like that. And he could turn Olsen into a Pro Bowler.”
“Exactly. Our receivers are not nearly the disaster they are made out to be. Especially when you include Olsen and Clark. And come on: Devin Go Deep! The best play in the Bears’ book! Remember in that Saints game when they finally figured out that Hester was a guaranteed monster pickup every time he ran a fly because he would either catch it or get mugged for the interference call?”
“Devin Go Deep. I like it.”
My phone beeped. I was getting a call from my cooperating teacher Jeff.
“Glick, getting another call.”
I click over. We exchange quick hellos. And then:
“Just wanted to call to see what you think.”
“We’ll see. We’ll see,” I said. “Cutler’s exciting. But we still need the same, like, four things to go well, just like every year. Strong o-line, a tail back on his game, baller pass rush, and dudes have to stay healthy. That’s it. That’s the season.”
“There’s talk we might sign Orlando Pace.”
“I’ve heard that. Now that would get me amped. You know, when the team gets good, and you spend all sorts of time being excited over the position players…ooh, Marty Booker! Whoa, check out Nathan Vasher! Dude, Bernard Berrian is fast!…and what you miss is how good the line is. That ’01 team, all five guys started all 16 games. And we were rock solid ’05-’06. Then Miller and Tait and Ruben Brown got old and impossible, and we all started wondering why Rex and co. were looking sorry.”
And it’s true. More than any other position on the team, the Bears’ offensive line affects the way I feel about myself during football season. I know that sounds entirely insane. So be it. I don’t feel like a bum when the Bears are losing, but I do feel like a king when they are winning, and when that winning stems from a powerful, dominant offensive line…there’s just something about a group of five massive men who are experienced as a single unit and are responsible for protecting your leader and creating space for your spark plug that makes me feel strong.
Jeff and I breakdown the defense and discuss the new offense and then hang up.
I go back to ESPN.com where CUTLER TO THE BEARS is still breaking news, and then I see it, off on the side, in tiny print: Bears sign ex-Ram Pace.
“Yes! Yes! There we go!”
My phone rings. It’s Luke. He’s getting married on Saturday, so the man has plenty to think about. And yet:
“How about those Bears?”
“We got Pace!”
“Isn’t he old?”
“Realllllll old. But if he’s got one season left, then that’s one season of a Hall-of-Fame, former-Pro Bowl left tackle. And if he’s totally done, then with the new guy Omiyale and the young guys a year older our line will still be better, and now we’ve got a Hall-of-Fame left tackle showing these dudes how to train.”
“I’m pretty pumped about Cutler. He’s a Pro Bowl quarterback! When was the last time we had that? McMahon, probably.”
We chatted a bit more about Cutler and Pace and Forte and Hester, wished each other well, and hung up with nary a mention of his impending nuptials. I still had yet to call Ben, or my dad, or Tony the Packers fan, or a slew of other people who I knew I’d be on the horn with sooner or sooner. Say what you will about Cutler for Orton. At least they’ve got us talking.
Copyright 2009, jm silverstein
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