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Thread: Stefan Fatsis on Cutler

  1. #1
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    Stefan Fatsis on Cutler

    I don't want to belabor the Cutler drama but this is a tremendous article, written from an insider's perspective.


    http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2...on-jay-cutler/

    April 3, 2009, 2:18 pm
    Stefan Fatsis on Jay Cutler
    By Stefan Fatsis

    Stefan Fatsis is the author of A Few Seconds of Panic, about his summer as a placekicker for the Denver Broncos and life in the modern NFL. He is a sports commentator for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and a contributor to the New York Times and other publications.

    The saga of the Denver Broncos and Jay Cutler is like the children’s song about the old lady who swallowed a fly. You can find a reason for every decision, but you still might not ever know why.

    In this case, the first swallow was Broncos owner Pat Bowlen firing Coach Mike Shanahan just after Christmas. The decision to break up after 14 seasons wasn’t driven by a perception of a diminution in the coach’s football skills. Bowlen told me he still respected those. But it wasn’t a spontaneous act based on the team’s late-season collapse in 2008, either. Instead, the owner and others in the organization began to feel that Shanahan’s my-way operating style had lost some of its effectiveness, in the front office and with the players. Bowlen over the years had gradually ceded to Shanahan virtually all operating control of the team. After three mediocre seasons in a row — a 24-24 record; no playoff appearances — he decided this was as good a time as any to rebrand and possibly revive his business.

    One other overlooked factor: Bowlen is 65. He’d like the franchise to be in a stable place for an ownership transition in the next few years to one of his seven children. I got to know Bowlen well during the summer I spent as a kicker with the Broncos to write a book about the NFL. He doesn’t want to be like Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, presiding over his team, even as a figurehead, at age 90. I also know Bowlen to be thoughtful, reasonable and sensible — and tough when he needs to be. He trusts the people he has hired — leaving the football decisions to the football people and business decisions to the business people — and weighs in when necessary. That was less and less under Shanahan. He wanted a more active role in his final years as owner.

    In Josh McDaniels, Bowlen chose to succeed Shanahan a coach schooled in New England’s disciplined methodology. McDaniels analyzed every player on the Broncos, examining footage and reading reports prepared by his staff. He made some small, head-scratching decisions, like dumping reliable and hard-working (not to mention mature and intelligent) Shanahan holdovers like Mike Leach, the long snapper, and Nate Jackson, a tight end and special teamer. (Disclosure: Both are friends of mine.) He dumped assistant coaches. He rearranged the furniture, literally, at the Broncos’ suburban headquarters. As I type this, just eight players, three assistant coaches and three football executives remain from the time I spent with the team in 2006.

    Jay Cutler wasn’t spared scrutiny, nor should he have been. Which leads to a question that few people seem to be asking: Why would McDaniels have considered trading Cutler in the first place? I don’t know the coach, but I know how NFL front offices operate. It’s incumbent on team executives to pick up the phone when other teams call. It’s incumbent on them to listen. It’s not incumbent on them to do more than say, thanks, but no thanks. In this instance, McDaniels was contacted about acquiring his former quarterback in New England, Matt Cassel. Proposals were made. How far they got, and how aggressive the Broncos were about encouraging them, only the participants know for sure.

    Should Jay Cutler and his agent, Bus Cook, have been insulted that these conversations took place? Of course not. Coaches and general managers have a responsibility, akin to a CEO’s fiduciary responsibility, to consider anything that might improve their team. What I know based on talking to some of my former Broncos colleagues is that, well before this drama erupted, Cook and Cutler wanted to renegotiate the quarterback’s six-year contract, which has three years left. The current deal included $15 million in guaranteed payments. Cutler was paid a $1.275 million roster bonus in 2006 and a $7.9 million option bonus in 2007. But his base salaries are, by Pro Bowl-quarterback standards, meager, and a $12 million performance bonus isn’t due until 2011.

    Ted Sundquist, the Broncos’ general manager when I was with the team, told me at the time that, because of the large lump-sum, back-end payout, the contract would probably be restructured before it expires. He said Bus Cook also expected that to happen. Did Cutler and Cook manufacture their hurt feelings over McDaniels’s trade talks and the coach’s subsequent ineffectual spin in an effort to get a new contract now, or get to another city that would give them one? I don’t know. But they certainly saw an opening.


    Still, issues over money and bruised egos are addressed and massaged every day in pro sports. The Broncos didn’t have to publicly announce that they wanted to trade Cutler. He was an employee under contract. He would have found a way to sublimate his wounded feelings and show up for mandatory training or risk watching Chris Simms take snaps in September. But at some point, possibly just this week, possibly as long ago as January, the Broncos concluded that they would be better off in the long run — on the field and as a business — with a quarterback other than Cutler.

    So why did they swallow that fly? I met Cutler when he was the first-round draft choice in 2006 who was expected to ride the bench for a couple of years behind Jake Plummer and then lead Denver for a decade or more. The new Elway! Finally! But Cutler is virtually absent from my book. That’s because he was uncompelling journalistically and off-putting personally. I sought out players who thought deeply and were interested in explaining the physical and emotional realities of playing in the NFL. That wasn’t Cutler. His demeanor often was that of a bored, eye-rolling teenage girl, with a dash of smugness for good measure. Since then, I’ve received unflattering reports about his behavior and indifferent-to-negative ones about his relationship with his teammates.

    Should those sorts of perceptions outweigh a laser arm on a 25-year-old body and 4,500 passing yards and 13-1 record in games in which his team gave up no more than 21 points and any of the other stats rolled out by his supporters? Certainly not. But football teams, like other businesses, consist of human beings whose ability to interact is integral to their success. And no human being is more important to the success of a football team than the quarterback. Josh McDaniels may be young and inexperienced, but he’s not dumb. He didn’t want to sabotage his new team, or his own future. So something else must have been going on.

    Here’s a radical thought: Maybe McJayGate, as the Denver press dubbed it, wasn’t about who dissed whom or who ignored whose text messages or whether a new coach has to earn the respect of his players. Maybe it was about something more prosaic but also more substantial: the future of the team. Maybe Pat Bowlen, Josh McDaniels and other team officials examined Cutler’s statistics, his physical traits, his emotional temperament, his suitability to the coach’s offensive system, his leadership ability, his off-field behavior and his overall attitude — including the evolution of his relationship with his new boss. And then they decided that the Denver Broncos had a greater chance of winning with someone else in the huddle. Even someone named Kyle Orton.

  2. #2
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    Thats a hell of a last name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    13-1 record in games in which his team gave up no more than 21 points
    Out of all that, this is what stood out the most to me. The Jets' D and Cutler could have been something special.

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    I really wish this would go away..

    Cutler is a bad guy ZOMG!!!

    We had a good guy who couldn't throw the ball very recently. Maybe we should've kept him.

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    good read. Thanks for posting.

    have to say, I've never heard of Stefan Fatsis -- but he seems to have an interesting resume and pursue a pretty unconventional style of sports journalism. I think I'll look for his book.

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    Interesting read, thank Bit

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    Quote Originally Posted by gaffneycatch View Post
    good read. Thanks for posting.

    have to say, I've never heard of Stefan Fatsis -- but he seems to have an interesting resume and pursue a pretty unconventional style of sports journalism. I think I'll look for his book.
    I read his book about when he was a kicker, it was excellent. I also believe he has a book about scrabble or something... haven't read that but also highly touted.

    he spent a whole training camp with the team, fatsis knows more about the broncos than 99% of people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miracle In The Meadowlands View Post
    Out of all that, this is what stood out the most to me. The Jets' D and Cutler could have been something special.
    LOL that's what stood out in that article to you? Man you must really love Jay Cutler.

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    Interesting read. And possibly very accurate as to the reasons surrounding this drama.

    This isn't just about Cutler being a bad guy. It's about a player having a perceived crappy attitude and approach and a perceived shaky relationship with his teammates. A player who holds the single most important position in all of team sports. The starting quarterback. You can have a guy like this on your basketball team or your baseball team or your hockey team and still be successful and win. I think the odds are stacked against you if that guy is the starting QB on your football team.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruby2 View Post
    Thats a hell of a last name.
    yup, I lol'd when I read it. At least he's not a girl.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miracle In The Meadowlands View Post
    Out of all that, this is what stood out the most to me. The Jets' D and Cutler could have been something special.
    What a worthless stat.

    In 2008 alone, 22 teams averaged more than 21 points per game.

    I'm not a math genius but something tells me that those 22 teams won a LOT of games when their defense gave up less than 21 points.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brady's a catcher View Post
    yup, I lol'd when I read it. At least he's not a girl.
    Imagine if that was Mangold's last name?

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    That last paragraph is funny. Teams wail and fight to get the big armed franchise QB for years and at the 1st sign of some immaturity they dump him and thing Kyle Orton on a team with no defense might be a better alternative. I ain't buying it for one second.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Green Jets & Ham View Post
    Bottom line:

    Jay Cutler is an absolute diva who has a GOD Given Gift to throw a football like Joe Namath .. in any kind of weather

    The End
    The difference is, Namath had a great attitude and he was loved by his teammates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Green Jets & Ham View Post
    Bottom line:

    Jay Cutler is an absolute diva who has a GOD Given Gift to throw a football like Joe Namath .. in any kind of weather

    He is now a Chicago Bear, and most likely will NEVER, EVER play for the New York Football Jets.

    The End
    Fixed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Green Jets & Ham View Post
    Bottom line:

    Jay Cutler is an absolute diva who has a GOD Given Gift to throw a football like Joe Namath .. in any kind of weather

    The End
    I'm with you GJ+H. I'm with you....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miracle In The Meadowlands View Post
    Out of all that, this is what stood out the most to me. The Jets' D and Cutler could have been something special.
    That stat can't possibly be right. It's all his fault they went 15-17 over the last 2 years. The rest of the team is awesome, he was holding them back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruby2 View Post
    Thats a hell of a last name.
    Fatsis as Fatsdoes...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    I read his book about when he was a kicker, it was excellent. I also believe he has a book about scrabble or something... haven't read that but also highly touted.

    he spent a whole training camp with the team, fatsis knows more about the broncos than 99% of people.
    http://www.amazon.com/Word-Freak-Hea...8792222&sr=8-2

    It's a better book than it sounds like it would be.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    I read his book about when he was a kicker, it was excellent. I also believe he has a book about scrabble or something... haven't read that but also highly touted.

    he spent a whole training camp with the team, fatsis knows more about the broncos than 99% of people.
    Yeah, I saw him read when we did a book signing together. He's a very thoughtful and impressive guy, and he absolutely knows the pulse in Denver.

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