When Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler addressed the media last week about the disparaging comments made by his offensive coordinator, he took the high road. He handled the situation about as good as could be expected considering it had the potential to bring the locker room to an even higher level of toxicity. Once the trust is gone in any relationship, it can take years to mend fences.
Privately, Cutler had to be affected by the criticism from his offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, but publicly he put on a good face for the franchise.
"No, no, I wasn't angry at him," Cutler said. "You know, the way he talked to us and approached the issue, I think we kind of cleared the air a little bit with everybody. I want to play better; the offensive line wants to play better; the receivers want to play better; we all want to play better in the offense, and that's the main issue."
Cutler may have wanted to play better on Monday Night against the Saints, but he went out and had one of the worst games of his career. Everything Cutler did was just a little off that night. It's not a coincidence that his worst game of the season came a week after the "buyers remorse" comments. The inconsistent Chicago offense was even worse than usual.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is friends with Cutler, spoke with the media about the Cutler/Kromer situation on Tuesday.
"I would have a major problem if somebody said something like that," Rodgers said Tuesday during an interview at Lambeau Field. "I think anybody that plays the position, you can't help but empathize with Jay for that situation. You talk all the time about being connected, being a unit, believing in each other. But if you have unnamed sources, people out there cutting you down, and then you find out it's the person calling the plays -- that would be really hard to deal with, to look at him the same way."
The working environments for Cutler and Rodgers couldn't be any different. Jay has had a couple general managers, a couple head coaches and numerous offensive coordinators. Rodgers has benefited from having the same head coach and offensive system for the last nine seasons. Rodgers was drafted by then 1st year GM Ted Thompson, and he's had Thompson molding the Packers ever since. It took Thompson three years before transforming the Packers to a playoff team and Green Bay has gone on to make the postseason in 6 of the next 7 seasons and appear primed to make it a 7th this year. The Bears have only made one playoff run since their 2006 Super Bowl season.
"I felt for Jay that he was having to deal with that," Rodgers said. "And I was surprised that the coach came out and admitted that it was him. I think, in general, unnamed sources are pretty gutless. But then he comes out and admits it was him. I don't think he deserves any credit for that, but it was interesting that he did."
Some fans and members of the media are praising Kromer for saying what he did because there is some truth to it. But the right thing to do would have been to talk to Cutler himself. Keeping things in-house and coaching up deficiencies in players is what good teams do.
Good teams don't treat players with kid-gloves, but that's the narrative that's being spun by local media, that no coach has ever fired on Cutler for his mistakes during film session. If that's the case, then that's a problem on an organizational level.
If an environment has been created where coaches feel the only way to get a negative message out is by going to the media anonymously then there should be more than just coaches that are fired.
"I would have a major problem with that, if (Packers offensive coordinator) Tom Clements was saying stuff like that about me -- which he never would, cause Tom and I are so close, and I think we have good communication," Rodgers said. "I think there's a way of doing things when you have issues, and it's keeping it in-house.
"We talk about that with our group a lot, and (Packer head coach) Mike (McCarthy) always talks about, usually on Mondays or Wednesdays, 'Here's some of the media topics (that we'll be asked).' It gives guys a chance, if there are any questions or anything we need to talk about, to get it out there.
"The great thing about our team is that we've always had really open lines of communication. You know, we've had a couple of guys over the years be those unnamed sources, but thankfully Mike and Ted have weeded those guys out. So we're not worried about these guys ripping on people and going out and doing things. Because if something happens like that, we address it directly.
"But yeah, I was baffled by that. And (if a coach did that to me), we'd have some problems.
I've never liked when people try to compare Rodgers and Cutler because it's not a fair comparison. It's apples to oranges, Rodgers is simply a better football player. When looking for an apples to apples comparison, then you have to look at the two franchises. Organizationally speaking, the Packers have been kicking the Bears' ass for years.