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Old 04-04-2009, 12:28 AM   #1
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Default Fatsis weighs in on everything...

People have generally liked his coverage. He's been pretty forthcoming, perhaps even too much for his own good. But, if nothing else, he's been on the inside and approached things from a pretty neutral perspective.

Here's his take...

Stefan Fatsis on the Broncos and Jay Cutler
By STEFAN FATSIS

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. 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.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:40 AM   #2
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Too bad Jake is playing handball and it isn't with himself.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:43 AM   #3
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His book is worth reading ...
For those who do that type thing.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:45 AM   #4
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Great article written by someone who for sure does know Broncos players, former GMS, former coaches, all of them.

I'm really starting to feel Broncos jumped of Cutler at the right time. 4500 yrds and 25 tds may be the best he ever does. Cutler better wise up and stop being a jerk to everyone unless he wins Superbowls and really fast. He gets to yr 5, yr 6, and nothing, people will start to hate on him more and more.

How long before the first negative story on Cutler comes out of Da Bearland?

I give it only a few more weeks unless the Bears give Cutler a big new deal.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:46 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by TDmvp View Post
His book is worth reading ...
For those who do that type thing.
Most of the people on this board would need the spoken version.

Too bad it was done by Sharpe and no one can understand it.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:48 AM   #6
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Great book -- facinating read on the inner workings of an NFL franchise. Funny thing, he wrote it coming off the AFC Championship run, but you could tell from his book that the franchise was heading in a bad direction. Shanny wasn't connecting with the players...the Plummer situation was about to implode.

Looking back in hind sight, there's a lot of little signs even then that foreshadowed where we are now.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:50 AM   #7
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His book is worth reading ...
For those who do that type thing.
Is it bolded, highlighted and underlined so I know what parts I should be paying better attention to?
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:02 AM   #8
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Is it bolded, highlighted and underlined so I know what parts I should be paying better attention to?
Generally, with regards to long articles... posters may choose to highlight interesting segments, as so many of these articles say the same thing.

Beyond that, some people may not have time to read every article in every post.

So, yea... people sometimes do this. In fact, often.

Hope that helps.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:17 AM   #9
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Hope that helps.
Ataboy. You are providing a valuable service to the Mane.

These bible code articles can be tough to decipher.

I would have screwed it all up because some of those quotes are not the ones I would have highlighted at all.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:21 AM   #10
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Ataboy. You are providing a valuable service to the Mane.

These bible code articles can be tough to decipher.

I would have screwed it all up because some of those quotes are not the ones I would have highlighted at all.


Let's talk more about bolding letters.

You go first.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:22 AM   #11
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Shouldn't we be talking about current QB's?

So, this guy was in Dove Valley WHEN? and in training camp no less.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:27 AM   #12
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Shouldn't we be talking about current QB's?

So, this guy was in Dove Valley WHEN? and in training camp no less.
He's talking about our most recent starting QB, yes. He's had extensive contact with Cutler and shares close ties with the team, including mutual friends with Cutler.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:32 AM   #13
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Great article written by someone who for sure does know Broncos players, former GMS, former coaches, all of them.

I'm really starting to feel Broncos jumped of Cutler at the right time. 4500 yrds and 25 tds may be the best he ever does. Cutler better wise up and stop being a jerk to everyone unless he wins Superbowls and really fast. He gets to yr 5, yr 6, and nothing, people will start to hate on him more and more.

How long before the first negative story on Cutler comes out of Da Bearland?

I give it only a few more weeks unless the Bears give Cutler a big new deal.
he won't be torn down in Chicago for a long while. they have gone through almost 25 years of suck at the QB position and with a young pro bowler, he will get time before he is bashed. (McMahon wasn't that great, but he won a super bowl, and due to that is the best the franchise has had in years.)

the soonest he will get bashed in Chicago is when he loses a game for the team, or plays terribly, otherwise he will probably be fine and loved there
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:36 AM   #14
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he won't be torn down in Chicago for a long while. they have gone through almost 25 years of suck at the QB position and with a young pro bowler, he will get time before he is bashed. (McMahon wasn't that great, but he won a super bowl, and due to that is the best the franchise has had in years.)

the soonest he will get bashed in Chicago is when he loses a game for the team, or plays terribly, otherwise he will probably be fine and loved there
Agree to a point. Talked to some Chicago guys the past couple of days, and they are indeed stoked... to say the least.

But, the flipside of that is if Jay doesn't live up to this messiah status he's coming to town carrying. I do think there is going to be an enormous amount of pressure on him. We'll see how he handles it.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:53 AM   #15
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he won't be torn down in Chicago for a long while. they have gone through almost 25 years of suck at the QB position and with a young pro bowler, he will get time before he is bashed. (McMahon wasn't that great, but he won a super bowl, and due to that is the best the franchise has had in years.)

the soonest he will get bashed in Chicago is when he loses a game for the team, or plays terribly, otherwise he will probably be fine and loved there
You are crazy. They gave up 3 high draft picks for him. No way he gets much leeway. He will be expected to win, and win next yr. If he doesn't he will be expected to win in 2010. By that time if he hasn't taken the Bears far into the playoffs they will start to question whether he was worth it.

I still say Jay will be under immense pressure to win. Not just from Chicago, but from the NFL media and culture. Trust me he doesn't win this kid won't want to give an interview.

People don't like Cutler, Chicago may like that type of personality, they probably will love him for a couple yrs, after that he has to win a Superbowl or at least get close.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:55 AM   #16
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He's talking about our most recent starting QB, yes. He's had extensive contact with Cutler and shares close ties with the team, including mutual friends with Cutler.
In '06 training camp.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
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.


This is what it looks like to me and I am relieved that we shipped Jay and got a shiit load of picks and a decent QB that is a team leader and a winner and best of all a team player..
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:59 AM   #18
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I don't think anyone has argued we did not get compensation, considering Bowlen's blowup and people thinking we would trade him for a first and a bag of beans.
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:02 AM   #19
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You are crazy. They gave up 3 high draft picks for him. No way he gets much leeway. He will be expected to win, and win next yr. If he doesn't he will be expected to win in 2010. By that time if he hasn't taken the Bears far into the playoffs they will start to question whether he was worth it.

I still say Jay will be under immense pressure to win. Not just from Chicago, but from the NFL media and culture. Trust me he doesn't win this kid won't want to give an interview.

People don't like Cutler, Chicago may like that type of personality, they probably will love him for a couple yrs, after that he has to win a Superbowl or at least get close.
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Agree to a point. Talked to some Chicago guys the past couple of days, and they are indeed stoked... to say the least.

But, the flipside of that is if Jay doesn't live up to this messiah status he's coming to town carrying. I do think there is going to be an enormous amount of pressure on him. We'll see how he handles it.
i agree with what you are saying about the almost immediate pressure on him to get there and win right away.

however, a QB is only as good as his weapons, and because of that, i think the fans will give him a break this season until the team gets some receiving weapons around him.

i agree however, that like every team that has a main goal of a Super Bowl win, the fans will grow restless if Cutler isn't getting the job done.

but if he gets Chicago a playoff appearance and shows he can get his team into the playoffs every year, he will become a God in Chicago
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:03 AM   #20
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Hard to add good WR without drafting them. Most of the ones available seem to be malcontents or older guys.

I agree though no reason Cutler can't play well enough for the fans to give him a couple yrs. My point was more a couple yrs will be yr 5 for Cutler. By yr five you haven't done anything people will start to whisper...........can't win the big game!!!
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:17 AM   #21
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His book is worth reading ...
For those who do that type thing.
Ill wait for the movie. TV movie i hope so i dont have to get off the couch.
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:40 AM   #22
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OMG that was a good read!!
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:47 AM   #23
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Nice article...thanks for posting.

I live in Chicago now, moved here last summer, so I was able to catch Jay's radio interview. He made a point of thanking "Mr. Bowlen" the city of Denver and the fans of the Broncos. He took the high road and said the right things.

I'm hoping for everyone's sake that Cutler learns a few things from going through this. He's a smart kid, but a kid none the less. Cutler said that if they could have a do-over both sides would probably make different decisions.

I wish him the best, I hope he matures (I expect he will) and that he has a great career. I hope that the Broncos draft really well and come out of this stronger. What can I say...I'm an optimist...the glass is more than half full.
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Old 04-04-2009, 06:46 AM   #24
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wow....talk about gettin it all out there

if these kinds of things are true, Cutler may be one of those guys that doesnt learn this NFL thing before its too late
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Old 04-04-2009, 06:51 AM   #25
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wow....talk about gettin it all out there

if these kinds of things are true, Cutler may be one of those guys that doesnt learn this NFL thing before its too late
Fatsis was destroyed here for even speaking badly about the Douche. I feel bad for him as he saw this tool for what he was and wasn't afraid to say it.
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