For an entire offseason, the NFL focused upon the comments Maurice Jones-Drew made on Twitter after Bears quarterback Jay Cutler left the game against the Packer in their playoffs last year:
“Hey I think the [Urban Meyer] rule is effect right now… When the going gets tough……..QUIT,”
Most questioned why Jones-Drew chose to take to Twitter to do this so quickly during the game. My question, which he never answered, was what was it specifically about Cutler that made him do it. I think we know now.
Cutler wilted early after the Saints hit him pretty hard on Sunday. Its true he took quite a beating but he also brought some of it on himself. Here’s how Dan Pompei graded him out for the Chicago Tribune this morning:
Cutler had a near-impossible job in this game, and he didn’t help himself a bit. He held onto the ball too long in spots, especially on the first sack of the game that resulted in a fumble. That was a huge momentum-shifter.
We have to cut him some slack because of the beating he took. But his accuracy was awful. He was bailing out on throws. He didn’t have a good feel for where the pressure was coming from.
Cutler has to perform better in the face of pressure than he did Sunday. His mechanics broke down. He held the ball. He was emotional. In short, he was completely discombobulated. To be fair, I would have wilted pretty quickly under this pressure, too. But also to be fair, I’m not an NFL quarterback.
This was a situation where Cutler needed to be calmed down. He needed to be reminded of his responsibilities. He needed to be focused on the game plan, not the pass rush. In short, he needed coaching. And several shots of Cutler yelling and gesturing at quarterbacks coach Shane Day made is clear that it had to come from someone other than him.
Generally speaking I’m a big fan of the offensive coordinator calling games from the booth. You can see better and you can call a better game when you are emotionally disconnected from the action on the sideline. But in this case I think that, similar to what he had to do with the emotional Jon Kitna in Detroit, Mike Martz has to move down and help both Cutler and Day out. Simply put, someone with authority and the respect of the quarterback needs to be there to remind Cutler that “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”