To dull the pain in Chicago, let’s adopt Johnny Football as our own
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Let’s talk about a quarterback who is steady, trustworthy and unlikely to make your grandmother throw the remote through the TV screen.
See, this is what Jay Cutler does to you. He makes embracing the wildest child seem tame. He makes deep-frying a turkey seem like the safest thing in the world. He makes giving money to a TV evangelist seem fiscally prudent.
I’m not suggesting that the Bears trade for Manziel. Johnny Football and George ‘‘What’s a Football?’’ McCaskey together in marriage? It would never happen. What I am suggesting is that we here in Chicago adopt the Cleveland Browns quarterback, purely for escape purposes.
Thirteen games into a miserable Bears season and six seasons into Cutler’s erratic career in Chicago, the mind looks for ways to stop the pain. Mine has landed on Manziel, the athletic, hard-partying, polarizing rookie whose career probably will end in a spectacular ball of flame. That’s pain-killing entertainment, folks.
There are three games left in the season. The Browns have yet to announce a starter for their game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it would be insanity not to give Manziel his first start with the way Brian Hoyer has performed recently.
The Bears don’t play Sunday, which isn’t so much a gift from above as it is a result of the NFL’s decision to put them on national TV the next night against the New Orleans Saints. And, yes, ESPN executives would sacrifice their firstborns if it would get them out of that Monday matchup.
The Bears have been guilty of a lot of things, but being uninteresting has to be right near the top. Tell me, how many thrilling moments have there been this season? Or, more to the point, what’s so thrilling about watching Cutler remain among the league leaders in turnovers?
Manziel, on the other hand, could make us forget our woes for a few hours.
It’s much more likely that he’ll be a failure in the NFL than a success — not Tim Tebow-bad, but bad. He’s not big enough or consistent enough to last. His throwing accuracy against NFL players will be a huge question mark. There’s a very good chance he’ll be a train wreck, but — and this is the important thing — he’ll be somebody else’s train wreck. We Chicagoans can take it in from the safety of our homes, hundreds of miles from Cleveland. It will be like watching a horror movie, not like living the nightmare we’ve been living for six years.
Last weekend, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Bears have a case of buyer’s remorse concerning Cutler. My first thought was, ‘‘Oh, that’s rich.’’ General manager Phil Emery gives Cutler $54 million in guaranteed money in January, Cutler plays the 2014 season with the same maddening inconsistency he has for most of his career and the Bears are surprised to learn he might not be the one to lead them to a Super Bowl?
The silly part isn’t that they have lost faith in him; it’s that they ever had faith in him in the first place.
But don’t look for the McCaskeys to admit a mistake that has cost a lot of money. They’ll be damned if they’re going to trade in a car they have put gobs of dollars into for repairs. They’ll show that heap of metal who’s boss!
When I mention I’m not a Cutler fan, his defenders often ask, ‘‘What quarterback would you want instead?’’ Implicit in the question is the idea that there’s no one available who’s better, so stick with whom you have. I’m sure that’s how the Bears have looked at it. But there’s something very defeatist in that attitude. It says you don’t have enough confidence in your scouting abilities to make an upgrade. The best general managers find good players where there were supposed to be none. The New England Patriots have done it for years.
But, hey, forget about all that. I’m a Manziel guy now, if only for sanity’s sake. I hope he starts Sunday. Those of us in Chicago will have something to watch without worrying about a loss of blood. There are no strings attached here, Johnny. Go ahead and throw a dumb interception. Throw off the wrong foot. We won’t care. We’ll laud you for your gumption.
Cutler and Manziel are different guys. One rubs his fingers together and asks you to show him the money. The other one already has the money, much to Chicago’s chagrin.