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Jay Cutler injury: Is the criticism warranted? [Updated]

Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on whether Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler deserves all the criticism he has received involving his injury and attitude on the sideline during Sunday's NFC Championship game. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in the poll and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Steve Svekis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Jay Cutler is in a tough spot, probably hoping that the MRI on his left knee comes back positive for a torn ligament. Otherwise the torrent of criticism he has received from people ranging from couch-potato commentators to active NFL players (Kerry Glenn and Maurice Jones-Drew among them) will intensify.

The circumstances of his departure from the NFC Championship Game are arguable (it's tough to not give a guy playing quarterback in the NFL with Type 1 diabetes the benefit of the pain-threshold doubt), but what isn't is that Cutler again has augmented his reputation as a 21st Century Jeff George.

His disinterested sourpuss made him look like a kid who had meekly gotten his lunch taken by a school bully. And when third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie was looking over a book of formations after he had been thrown into the fire, Cutler looked like he was a million miles away, though he was sitting next to him.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, Baltimore Sun

It's pretty clear that Jay Cutler is a strange dude. Anyone who has followed his career would probably agree with that statement. Even in the best of times, he sulks, doesn't make eye contact, and seems indifferent and arrogant. Although I'm not a doctor, I often wonder if a lot of his behavior might just be the result of an undiagnosed social-anxiety disorder. Whatever his issues are, it's obvious that he's a frustrating guy to root for.

I don't believe, however, that he's a quitter or a coward. He's taken a beating behind a terrible offensive line for two seasons, and never complained, so I'm unsure why people think he was quitting in the most important game of his career. If he couldn't push off his knee, he was of no use to the Bears in the second half.

Criticizing him for playing poorly in a big game before he was injured is fine. That's part of the job. But suggesting he quit when it appears (according to some reports) that he tore his MCL is gutless, and that's true whether you're a journalist, a fan or an NFL player.

[Updated at 1:51 p.m.:

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

The whole situation was botched from the start, and it wasn’t just Cutler. The Bears should have put him on the bench, or sent him back to the locker room. But to have him standing there looking bored -– legitimate injury or not -– was reminiscent of San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson sitting disengaged on the bench in New England during the AFC championship game.

Viewers resent that, considering how emotional they are about the outcome. Just like when Arizona’s Derek Anderson was laughing on the bench during a humiliating loss -- yes, it’s human, but it looks bad.

Of course Cutler wanted to play. And he probably has a high pain threshold when compared with the man on the street. But he needs to understand that if he doesn’t even try to look invested, no one’s going to invest much faith in him.]

 
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