Devin Hester was one of the most prolific and entertaining players to lace ’em up and play professional football. So it should come as no surprise that he has some stories to tell.
Naturally, those stories include some un-told reveals about ex-Bears QB Jay Cutler. But I’m not sure any will top his re-telling of a time when Cutler’s obsession to throw Brandon Marshall the ball paid off in a huge way:
Hester racking up more than $1,000 because Cutler threw it to Brandon Marshall early and often during practice is a fun story to hear in hindsight. However, it confirmed what many of us believed about Cutler’s laser-focus on getting the ball to his top target. Not that Marshall didn’t deserve to be targeted time after time, but the obsession with force-feeding him the ball wasn’t a fool-proof plan of attack.
Unfortunately, not all of Hester’s stories are “ha ha” funny. Hester leveled some serious criticism of Cutler’s leadership and personable skills.
“He’s not a really sociable guy,” Hester explained. “He’s not a talker, you know what I mean? He picks one or two guys, and he just leeches on ’em and separates himself from everybody.”
And then there’s this:
“I’d like to tell him to his face today, that to me, my years in the NFL … he’s the best quarterback when it comes to accuracy, power, knowledge of the game. The best quarterback, hands down, I ever played with. Now, when it comes to leadership, the worst.”
I’m not sure there is a statement that better encapsulates Cutler’s time in Chicago as the block quote above. Great skills that never steadily showed themselves because the lack of intangibles would never allow it.
Let’s be real. Arm talent will get you far in the league. HOWEVER, there’s a ton of value in the ability to bring a team together. Hester’s painting of how Cutler looked behind the scenes is a damning portrayal. But it comes from an honest place, so I can appreciate it.
Maybe this is hindsight typing here, but now I can’t help but think that might have been a reason that talented Bears teams underperformed. Not the reason. But in a game where coaches talk about quarterbacks as a rising tide who lift all ships, Cutler didn’t do that.