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Mike Vandermause column: Cutler could learn a lot from Rodgers

Sep. 20, 2012
 
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, left, talks to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after their game at Lambeau Field on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, left, talks to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after their game at Lambeau Field on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

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Jay Cutler should do himself a favor and heed the example of his Green Bay Packers counterpart Aaron Rodgers.

And no, Iím not referring to how the Chicago Bears quarterback could learn to throw more touchdown passes and fewer interceptions like Rodgers.

Cutler needs to sharpen his game off the football field even more than on it.

Cutler has been skewered in Chicago for the past week, including in his own locker room, after bumping and yelling at tackle JíMarcus Webb for missing a block during last Thursdayís game against the Packers.

It was an understandable emotional reaction by Cutler, and frankly, not that big a deal. Itís only natural that highly competitive athletes occasionally will yell at each other in the heat of battle.

But where Cutler falls woefully short is in how he responds to criticism and his inability to set aside his ego for the good of his team.

Thatís precisely where Rodgers shines. The Packers quarterback did the same thing as Cutler last Thursday when he yelled at receiver James Jones for running the wrong route and causing an interception.

How each quarterback handled his respective situation afterward is telling.
Rodgers apologized to Jones privately and publicly and diffused the incident.

Had Cutler done the same, most everyone would have forgiven and forgotten his outburst and moved on.

Instead, Cutler dug in his heels and declined to issue an apology on his weekly radio show this week.

Maybe heís stubborn or incapable of swallowing his pride.

Whatever the case, the issue hasnít died down and at least one teammate publicly chastised Cutler. One can only imagine whatís being said in the locker room behind Cutlerís back.

Even if Cutler has since addressed the issue in private, his unwillingness to publicly admit he was wrong has created a public relations nightmare.

This was the extent of Cutlerís public remorse, when he said of Webb on his radio show: ďI probably shouldnít have bumped him. Iíll go with that. As far as me yelling at him and trying to get him going in the game, I donít regret that. Shouldnít have bumped him, though. Iíll stick with that.Ē

Compare that to Rodgers, who said this of Jones on Thursday: ďI do feel bad. I donít want to show up a guy like that. Thatís why I apologized to him.Ē

Following those 20 words, Rodgers and everyone else in the Packers locker room can focus on the next opponent.

Cutler has been the target of unfair pot shots in the past and he no doubt has been scarred by the experience and carries a huge chip on his shoulder.

But he isnít the only NFL player under the microscope. Most starting quarterbacks face tremendous scrutiny and must sometimes deal with silly if not stupid criticism.

The key is how you handle such adversity, something Rodgers seems to have mastered.

This week player agent Blake Baratz, who represents tight end Jermichael Finley, questioned Rodgersí leadership ability on Twitter following the Jones incident.

It was a curious and potentially divisive comment but was received with a shrug by Rodgers.

ďItís not something thatís an issue and honestly, itís something Iím very comfortable with ó my leadership style ó and I feel like the guys in the locker room are as well,Ē he said.

Teammates including Finley defended Rodgers, and coach Mike McCarthy called Baratzís remarks ďignorant comments on social media.Ē

The mark of a good leader is someone willing to admit to mistakes, which in turn will rally co-workers to your defense.

Itís a simple principle that Cutler has failed to grasp.

ó mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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