Is there any player in the NFL heading into the 2010 season with more pressure on him than Bears quarterback Jay Cutler?
Let's face it, Cutler has a lot to make up for after a dreadful debut season with the Chicago Bears, but that's only half the battle.
GM Jerry Angelo basically put his reputation on the line with that trade with the Broncos that sent Kyle Orton, a first round-pick and a third-round pick in 2009 and a first-round pick in 2010 to Denver for Cutler and a fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft.
For that he got a quarterback who led his team to a 7-9 record, a record that looked much better than it was as Chicago won its final two games already having assured themselves of a seat by the TV for the playoffs.
Cutler was the quintessential all-or-nothing quarterback in his first year in Chicago, finishing the year with 27 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. It should be noted that eight of those touchdown passes came in the final two games of the year when the Bears were already out of contention.
Cutler's quarterback rating for the season was a woeful 76.8.
That was 21st best in the NFL last season or three spots ahead of the still unemployed Marc Bulger and two behind San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith who isn't exactly popular with his own club these days.
Not exactly numbers to make a fan base that thought it had finally solved its quarterback problems real happy.
And they're not.
The franchise paid a huge price to get Cutler and the individuals responsible for the deal -- namely Angelo and by extension head coach Lovie Smith -- are still very much on the hook for this one.
So not only is Cutler going into 2010 hoping to salvage his own name in Chicago, his success or lack thereof will likely determine how long Smith and Angelo are around as well.
There's already talk that Smith, who has two years left on his deal, could be sent packing if the Bears stumble in the pre-season.
Angelo hasn't even brought in a veteran backup for Cutler so in a sense he is tying his head coaches hands.
Were he to, say, bring in a veteran like Bulger or Josh McCown -- two legitimate QB's who are available -- Smith might be able to buy Cutler some time.
But with Caleb Hanie, Brett Basanez and Dan LeFevour behind Cutler, this is shaping up to be all Jay or no Jay which, in a way, is rather appropriate.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND?
It looks like we've heard the last of that nasty lawsuit that threatened to tear apart the New Orleans Saints for at least a while. Former director of security Geoff Santini has withdrawn the lawsuit as per an agreement he signed with the team back in 2001 in which he agreed to use arbitration to settle any claims he might have against the team.
Why this wasn't done before all the embarrassing facts emerged is a question they've probably been asking within the team offices for the past few days.
In essence, the dispute now will go behind closed doors with both parties obligated to keep the process private.
Unfortunately for GM Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton, and linebackers coach Joe Vitt, the cat is already out of the bag. What will be interesting to watch is whether the federal authorities will continue to follow it up as it appears a number of federal laws were broken in this whole sordid affair.
AT THE HALF
Now that we're thankfully finished talking about Dez Bryant's mother, Roy Williams has a message for the highly publicized rook. It goes something like this: 'Don't expect to just walk in here and take my job without a fight.' Williams, more or less a bust since joining the Cowboys from the Lions, is, by all accounts, re-committed to getting back to the top of his profession. He has been catching 200 balls a week off a JUGS machine (200? That's all?). Bryant just has to be happy people are coming at him and not his mom this time ... Whether Brian Westbrook's visit with the Broncos gets him a job in Denver or not, it already has been a success. "He's healthy now, and that's a really important part for him and everyone else concerned," Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels told the Denver Post on Thursday. You can't buy that kind of advertising.
FOURTH AND INCHES
Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets have opened contract negotiations according to the Newark Star Ledger. It's not our money, but having watched Revis shut down the best receivers week after week, we'd just ask him what he wanted and write the cheque ... From the department of 'we-admire-his-confidence, but' comes this quote from Landon Cohen who finds himself trying to fend off No. 2 overall draft pick Ndamukong Suh to retain his starting job in Detroit. "I love competition, man. I always say I never lost a fight in my life. I'm excited about the competition, and I think it's going to bring the best out of all of us." Sure it will. And dress warmly for those games in Green Bay because it gets cold sitting on the bench.