Wow. Snow has been falling all morning up at the house which is different. Also different is going to be my rotation today. I want to talk about football. The Avs goaltending has been brutal (Peter’s back?), the Nuggets are pretty dang good when they play together, Melo is still here, CU lost on the road again and Ohio State has proven to be for real by beating Illinois in Champaign. There you go; I want to talk JAY CUTLER!
With so much already written and said about Cutler and his “performance” in the NFC Championship game yesterday, I will not speculate nor hate, rather extrapolate on the whole “Jay Cutler Phenomenon.” I will claim my usual ignorance, as I did not watch a second of this game (choosing instead to go swimming with my family and to watch my 4-year daughter scamper up this climbing wall) but I will not speak about Cutler’s game, injury or the subsequent criticism that his 2nd-half absence has provoked. I knew this would all “end badly” for the Bears and am therefore not surprised by the result, but what really interests me was how this all affects my Broncos?
To wit, last week, there was much debate and disgust surrounding where the Broncos “were” following Josh McD’s infamous trade with Chicago. Again, with the Broncos owners of a disastrous 4-12 record, a bizarre future at quarterback and a down-right awful defensive unit, it was spoken about often and agreed upon that the trade of Cutler to Chicago had killed the franchise. Heck, many of the parts that resulted from the trade had done little as Broncos; Orton had been replaced by the guy that traded for him in the first place and that precocious, young gun-slinger we gave up on had led his new team just one game from the Super Bowl.
We had gotten jobbed in that trade! This is an outrage! Not only in what we “gave up,” but also in the return pieces.
Now what? The local media in Chicago appears to be supportive of Cutler in regards to yesterday and the impending future. Of course, that’s not all that surprising considering the nature of relationship that the beat writer/columnist has with the public figures of the respective organization that they cover. They see each other every “work day,” they are on a first-named basis with each other and the writer relies on the team for the access (quotes) that make up the personality and life of his/her work. What they produce at work on a day-in/day-out basis. It’s important; so for the “company line” rhetoric to be present, again, no surprise.
But one national writer in particular, had me chuckling and full of thought early this morning. A guy with a three-decade run as a writer for the Washington Post (now with espnchicago.com/espn.com) but who as an unapologetic Chicago-sports team-homer, has a different prospective, for sure. Almost if this was to be written about Michael Wilbon’s historically forlorn, Cubbies, the Pardon the Interruption host was woeful, but accurate while lamenting the Bears’ history at the quarterback position. But amongst all of his misery about the long-standing lack of any real offensive playmakers on his team and that all-time great running back Walter Payton is also the franchise’s leader receiver (and some harsh criticism for Cutler smattered within) was his thoughts on the trade that brought Cutler to the Windy City in the first place. The transaction that gave what he (and millions of Chicago fans) had craved for so long, an honest, to goodness “franchise quarterback.” The very trade that the city of Denver, as a whole, seemed to be in agreement had ruined their precious Broncos.
“The Bears are never the ones to draft and develop an Aikman or Manning or Roethlisberger, or wisely trade for a Brees. Hell, the Bears can't even come up with a Matt Ryan or a Joe Flacco. They gave two first-round picks and two other picks and a player for Jay Cutler, who at his best constantly has the metropolis holding its breath, looking at games through spread fingers, praying to God he doesn't screw it up by throwing it to the other guys. And at his worst, he looks for the perfect pass instead of moving the chains and managing the game and thinks his arm is stronger than John Elway's, which is both stupid and immaterial.”
Keep in mind that any affront to Elway is like a personal attack on Wilbon, who is one of the country’s biggest fans of our #7. However, even for a guy that has both a personal/professional interest in the NFL and the Chicago Bears, he seems to easily assert the opposite of what our fair city had recently determined to be truth and cause for the demise of our most important public entity. (Don’t kid yourselves on that notion, either. The Denver Broncos are the one common bond that unites the largest percentage of the city/region’s population.)
At his best, he has the fans summoning aid from their “preferred creator” in a desperate attempt to avoid interceptions? Wilbon is one of my favorite members of the media because he doesn’t always “toe the company line,” as he has even made enemies in the game of basketball (which is, mind you, his prime sporting/reporting focus).
I always thought the Cutler trade was good for the Broncos not because it was our chance to rid ourselves of some “problem-child” quarterback. (Like I have often admitted, I was a fan of Cutler and even cloaked my then 2-year-olddaughter in a #6.) On the flip-side, I thought the potential to get four (I think Wilbon said we got five) potential starters for just one was the deal of the century. With over two dozen specialized positions in the game of football (while basketball has one) finding quantity often trumps quality (or in this case, potential quality). Getting a competent, experienced quarterback that had won games in the league (Orton) in addition to the three high picks seemed like a no-brainer.
THE DEAL: Broncos traded Cutler, and a fifth-rounder they had acquired in an earlier trade with Seattle, to the Bears for Kyle Orton, the Bears first-round picks in 2009 and 2010, as well as their 3rd-rounder in 2009.
THE AFTERMATH: We know how the Cutler/Orton exchange has transpired. The Broncos turned the Bears’ 2009 first-rounder into DE/OLB Robert Ayers, who has showed flashes, but the jury is surely still out on his pro prospects. Josh McD and the Broncos brass decided to move the 2010 pick during that 2009 draft (hasty, no?) for the rights to pick defensive back Alphonso Smith at the beginning of the second round. Since then, the infamous Smith did little in his one year in Denver and was moved to Detroit for back-up tight end/special teams guy, Dan Gronkowski, who was a seventh-round pick a year before. The third-round pick in 2009 was traded to the Steelers in an attempt to move back up into the bottom of the second round to draft tight end Richard Quinn from North Carolina. The same Richard Quinn that caught 12 passes in his ENTIRE college career, but was known more as “another offensive tackle.” Now known more as…. Well, most Bronco fans do NOT know Richard Quinn.
So at its very core, the trade seems to be a positive personnel move by Josh McD, but could the drafting be considered borderline, moronic?
They got Orton, two back-up special-teams tight ends and an underachieving young pass rusher for Jay Cutler. That’s not as good as it was supposed to look when this trade was made two summers ago.
So, I ask you all. What do you think about the trade? Did this trade really ruin the Broncos?
If anything, though, it appears that what was produced with those picks versus what was given up does not matter much to Bears fans today.
PS- I did actually watch most of the AFC Championship Game and was startled by this little first-quarter gem perpetrated by Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez. Hilarious.