ARLINGTON, Texas — That “Monday Night Football” festivities began with an opening of a Victoria’s Secret at JerryWorld is strangely apropos. The Bombshell bra — Vicky’s signature item — actually helps explain how in a battle of underachieving-overrated, bitchy-pouty in Jay Cutler’s case and affable-laid back in Tony Romo’s, pseudo-celebrity quarterbacks only Cutler seems to warrant irrational national disdain.
They are essentially the same animal. One is just packaged better.
Just like the Wonderbra has an ability to make the ordinary extraordinary, a little smile and media friendliness has a way of erasing football sins.
Romo does not have the bad rep that dogs Cutler despite becoming as big of a train wreck, if not bigger, as evidenced by his five-interception performance in the Cowboys’ 34-18 loss to the Bears. Why is simple. We like Romo more than Cutler despite both having a big bag of playoff nothing to show for their talent.
Romo melts down with a smile so we forgive him his foibles. Cutler melts down, on his teammates, publicly, and with zero personality so we fry him.
I am not defending Cutler, or his bumping into and yelling at his offensive lineman in that loss to Green Bay. I am just saying what he did was really not all that different than what Romo said after Monday’s disaster.
“I was trying to do too much. That is going to catch up to you at some point,” Romo said. “I am trying to do too much. Going forward, I just have to do my job. I can control what I can control.”
Translation: I was trying to make up for the clowns around me who seem incapable of catching or blocking or doing any of the tasks for which they were hired. It led to this disaster of a game. I am done trying to cover for them.
Romo is not wrong. The hot mess the Cowboys have put around him is unfair. What Cutler has going for him that Romo does not, in no particular order, is:
1. A nasty defense capable of providing catalytic plays. Not only did this Bears defense get five interceptions, it returned two of them for touchdowns.
2. A somewhat more consistent running game.
3. No Dez Bryant. The Cowboys’ erstwhile receiver was at his frustratingly delinquent worst on Monday. He dropped catchable balls. He botched routes. He failed basic football IQ tests. And he was directly responsible for Romo’s first interception.
The first one was not on Romo. Neither was the second. This is usually the script we follow when Romo has an awful game. It is the receivers, the lack of protection, the game plan, everybody and everything except him. It is the same game we play with Cutler, too.
And ESPN analyst Jon Gruden basically took this talking point to another level in his strange and amusing pregame anti-rant about the two quarterbacks. He called Cutler “a modern-day John Wayne, a modern-day Josey Wales” because, “he gets hit a lot! Hard! But he gets up, and he stays after you. And I’ve seen . . . this . . . kid . . . get . . . mad. He doesn’t just get mad, he gets plum-dog mad just like Josey Wales.”
And his praise of Romo for was somehow stronger and more passionate.
“I’ve seen him break his collarbone. I’ve seen him break a rib, puncture a lung. This is the toughest Cowboy they have in Texas,” Gruden said. “Romo gets more done on his own than any quarterback in pro football.”
And this is why Cutler won Monday Night Football. He excelled at not being the problem.
How thorough of a rout was this for Cutler? We had a smile and what looked to be kind words for a lineman from the seemingly perpetually pouty quarterback.
Of course, it could not be all smiles and happiness for Cutler.
TV caught and the World Wide Web gif’ed Cutler blowing off Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice on the sideline. Tice sat down. Cutler got up. Tice called to him. Cutler ignored him.
Who do you possibly root for in that throw down?
And while Cutler surely will be dinged for his sideline manner, it is the Wonderbra effect on full display.
They are the same animal. It is always something with them.
Neither seems to be able to get out of his own way despite tantalizing flashes of talent, and neither has been capable of winning when it matters. And that one does so with a smile instead of a pout does not make them different at all.