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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We Missed You, David

There was a certain kind of resignation in the Chicago sports media in the second half of this year. They couldn't in good conscience say anything bad about the offense, and they even fell on the right side of the "quarterback controversy" ESPN kept trying to stir up. They didn't really know what to do when we were presented with pretty solid evidence that everything we'd asked for from this offense in the last five years was suddenly coming true, but we couldn't enjoy it because our defense just... stopped.

I should commend them, honestly. A lot of stupid things were said about this football team, and my usual targets weren't the problem. Sure, they talked about Josh McCown a lot... but if we're being honest, it was at least a subject worth discussing. There was clearly a right and wrong answer, but I won't pretend there was absolutely no cause to say the guy's name.

But they can't be held down forever. When there's football on and league stuff to talk about, they'll go that way. But now it's the offseason, and they still have columns to write. Remember, this is a crew that will invent controversies where none exist to get themselves to training camp.

With that in mind, David Haugh got an early start by writing a lovely column about how the reason the Broncos made it to the Super Bowl was the Jay Cutler trade in 2009. Not getting Peyton Manning in free agency, not acquiring two of the "Four Horsemen" and a good running back from sources that weren't the Chicago Bears, but getting two pretty good draft picks for Jay Cutler.

This article is such naked anti-Cutler drivel that Hub Arkush and Dan Berenstein called Haugh out for it, and I have it on good authority that those guys have wet dreams about Jay Cutler throwing a game-losing pick six in the Super Bowl.

Behold, David  Haugh:

Never let it be said in Chicago that Jay Cutler cannot help a team get to the Super Bowl.

Thanks, David! It's always nice to know somebody in the Chicago sports media crowd isn't a total nutter who'd twist whatever facts he could however much he had to twist them to make Jay Cutler look bad.
Just look at the Broncos.

I... what? Just, nevermind that last thing that I said. We can both stop now, and nobody has to get hurt.

Peyton Manning isn't the only quarterback Denver can thank for wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker becoming one of the most productive pairings in the league. 

I feel like he kind of is. I mean, prior to Peyton's arrival, Demaryius Thomas had never played a full season and his career-high season production was 551 yards. Same goes for Eric Decker, who actually did play a full season in 2011, but still topped out at 612 yards.

So when it comes to those two becoming one of the most productive pairings in the league, Peyton Manning throwing the ball instead of Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow seems to be a pretty key factor. And this is not to disparage either guy's talent - Decker is a fine player and Demaryius Thomas is an exceptional one - but the stats clearly show that Peyton Manning is largely responsible for both of them becoming 1,000+-yard receivers.

The Broncos selected Thomas and Decker with draft picks they received as a result of trading Cutler to the Bears on April 2, 2009, in a blockbuster deal that benefited both sides — but looks rather lopsided days away from Super Bowl XLVIII.

Oh I see what you're doing now and no, just stop it now. 

If the Broncos beat the Seahawks, will former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo warrant a winners' share?

Well obviously they didn't, but still no. It's more complicated than that. If anything, I would say Irsay would be responsible for letting Peyton go in the first place but again... the world is more complicated than that. I'm hard-pressed to say they were wrong to drop a couple more years of Peyton Manning to get Andrew Luck's entire career out of the deal.

The Broncos did what the Bears believed they were doing on that memorable day nearly five years ago when Angelo excited Chicago with news greeted with euphoria unmatched since in our football city: Boldly making a deal to move closer to a championship. 

Seeing as he led the team to multiple winning seasons and an NFC title game, I'd say Cutler did in fact take Chicago closer to a championship; but I understand what you're saying here. I can't deny that Jay has not lived up to the promise the organization implied, but I've also mentioned before that it's not really his fault you raised our expectations.

When the Broncos landed Sunday night in New Jersey for a week on top of the football world, they officially won the trade. 

I'm curious as to what the statute of limitations on winning a trade is, or for that matter what "winning" a trade even means in this context. Both teams got something they needed out of that trade when it happened: the Bears needed a QB to make their shitty offense go, and the Broncos needed draft picks to build their team back up. Does a franchise finding success five years after a trade really have that much bearing on either party's decision?

That's not a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is no. It doesn't.

The Broncos have gone 46-34 with three playoff victories since Cutler left town, while the Bears are 44-36 with one since he arrived but, without question, a Super Bowl berth confirms the deal benefited Denver more.

The Broncos went to the playoffs at 8-8 with Tim Tebow under center, beat a Steelers team that got there on a laughably soft schedule, and then got absolutely obliterated by the Patriots. And then, a full five years after that trade, they went to the playoffs with Peyton Manning under center and still didn't win the Super Bowl. But even if they had, Peyton Manning has nothing to do with the Jay Cutler trade.

The closest connection you could say exists is that they had to get rid of both of the quarterbacks they tried to replace Cutler with and eventually the Greatest of All Time fell into John Elway's lap. But saying that either organization should've known that was going to happen is just ludicrous, even for a Chicago writer.

Signing Manning as a free agent in 2012 remains the biggest reason the Broncos will represent the AFC on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. 

Oh, I already convinced you. That was pretty easy!

But orchestrating the Cutler trade with the Bears for the valuable NFL currency of draft picks, which the Broncos invested in shrewdly, represents the Rocky Mountain version of the 1989 Herschel Walker blockbuster in which the Cowboys changed their future, thanks to the Vikings.

That might be the most complex analogy I've ever heard. Let me explain: Haugh is saying that those draft picks, which turned into a great player and a decent one, make this equivalent to the largest trade in NFL history and the Cowboys' acquisition of Emmitt Smith. Hyperbole never helps you Goddamn lunatics, but you just can't stop. They got two wide receivers, one of whom replaced the better wide receiver they ran out of town for fairly weak reasons, and then found success five years down the road with an almost totally different roster.

Following all of the Broncos' subsequent draft machinations requires enrolling in a night class for draftniks. 

I kind of want to hurt your face for saying "draftniks." 

Suffice to say the Broncos super-sized a package from the Bears that included two first-round draft picks and a third-round choice with quarterback Kyle Orton for Cutler and a fifth-rounder who turned out to be wide receiver Johnny Knox. Knox suffered a career-ending neck injury in 2011.

That seems pretty straightforward to me. You just wanted to say "draftnik," didn't you?

To finagle a way to get Thomas and Decker in the 2010 draft, the Broncos (don't worry, there won't be a quiz):

1. Used the No. 11 overall pick from the Bears to trade down to No. 13 while adding a fourth-rounder (113th overall) from the 49ers that would come in handy.

2. Moved down further to No. 24 in exchange for the Eagles' Nos. 70 and 87 picks in the third round.

3. Sent the fourth-round choice the 49ers gave them to the Patriots to move back up in the first round to No. 22.

4. Kept the 22nd overall pick and selected Thomas.

5. Used the 87th pick acquired from the Eagles to draft Decker.

Dear God that was so complicated. We have seen things man was not meant to see, and the strings of madness echo throughout my brain. Oh wait, they made a pretty minor draft trade, nevermind.

You wonder if Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels realized the irony watching Thomas and Decker make plays in the AFC championship game to keep him from the Super Bowl.

Seeing as 2010 was the draft in which the Patriots used that fourth-round pick to build the Gronk-Hernandez offense that revolutionized the way the league viewed tight ends, I'm guessing they weren't super-upset about it.

And I know that based on the "decisions have to pan out over a decade before they're validated" logic we're using here, drafting those two was a mistake because Gronk is made of fiberglass and Hernandez is in prison, but seeing as that team had the exact same level of success as this year's Broncos I think my argument holds up.

McDaniels was the Broncos head coach who clashed with Cutler enough to force the trade that eventually brought the receiving duo to Denver.

You just couldn't go a whole column without working in a "Jay Cutler is an asshole" bit, could you? And also, seeing as he clashed with Marshall enough to run him out of town and he eventually fell into Chicago, can we count that as a win for Chicago? I mean that seems equally convoluted to me.

Besides Thomas and Decker, who combined for 179 receptions for 2,718 yards and 25 touchdowns, the Broncos also used the Bears trade in the first round of the 2009 draft to take defensive end Robert Ayers, a key backup with 51/2 sacks. 

Thank God they got a key backup, that guy contributed... one tackle in the Super Bowl. That's called winning the trade.

The final overall bounty also included two now ex-Broncos the team was able to draft because of the Bears deal: tight end Richard Quinn and quarterback Tim Tebow.

You didn't have to talk about those guys! They fly directly in the face of your point! The "final overall bounty" included a bad quarterback you fired who couldn't even replace Mark Goddamn Sanchez and a tight end who caught one pass in his entire career.

In retrospect, when you remember Orton started for two productive seasons for the Broncos— 

He had two average seasons in the spread and was then replaced by the aforementioned not-even-a-backup before sitting on the bench with a Dixie cup full of Jack in Dallas. Let's not go off the handle here.

— the Cutler trade begins to resemble the front-office equivalent of a blowout. 

Does it? At best, Cutler and Orton performed around the same level during those years, statwise, and that's not counting the fact that Jay won a lot more football games during that time.

In context, the Bears have no reason to feel any regret over a deal they had to make at the time — and would have to do it all over again even knowing what they know.

So... you literally just admitted that you wrote this whole thing as a shameless piece of anti-Cutler clickbait and we all know it? Because you guys really have to stop doing that. You're writing a piece of made-up, inflammatory garbage, you do not have to present the other side.

Love him or hate him five seasons later, Cutler gives the Bears a dimension they never had. They badly needed the credibility Cutler offered the offense. They wanted to experience a bona fide NFL quarterback. Revisionist historians often forget that. 

Jesus Christ, David. How do you write this paragraph in the same column as all the paragraphs you wrote before it? Maybe you just don't realize that nobody has to "win" a trade like this. Both teams got something they desperately needed for one reason or another, and it has pretty much worked out to the benefit of everyone involved.

The fault wasn't giving up a king's ransom for Cutler as much as it was getting bad playmakers to surround him (with due respect to Roy Williams and Dane Sanzenbacher, of course).

If we're counting the Peyton Manning era in Denver's favor, I feel like we have to allow that Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback for the best offense in franchise history; one of the best offenses in the NFL at present. So sure, they did a terrible job surrounding him with playmakers until they gave him two Pro-Bowl receivers, a Pro-Bowl running back, a playmaking tight end, top-notch protection, and a scheme friendly to his talents.

Sure, Cutler fell short of impossibly high expectations because of well-documented inconsistency but not until last season did the Bears front office help extend his reach. Even a Hall of Fame-bound quarterback such as Manning needed the signing of Wes Welker, defensive improvement and the continued development of his young wide receivers.

David, stop disproving your own point. It makes my job really hard if you collect all the arguments against your asinine point at the end of your column, and Kyle beats me if I don't produce these articles.

One day the Bears still can get to the Super Bowl with Cutler. Even if the Broncos got there first without him.

Oh, fuck you.

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