McDaniels-Cutler feud taboo issue among Broncos
The Denver Post
DENVER, Colorado – Don’t go there.
Jay Cutler will once again oppose Josh McDaniels on Sunday night, this time on an open field in front of a large audience instead of in the private setting of a closed-door office.
But, please, ignore the two men behind the story.
Don’t go back to the month of March, when the saga known as McJaygate brought so much head-scratching conversation around the coffee machines not only in Denver but across the NFL landscape.
McDaniels will not go back. He will not speak again about how it all fell apart between him, then a 32-year-old, first-time coach, and Cutler, then a 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback.
McDaniels will discuss Cutler only in the present and future tenses. At present, McDaniels is preparing his team to play Cutler’s Bears on Sunday night at Invesco Field at Mile High, the first home preseason game for the new coach.
“I have watched film of him, and he’s definitely added a little bit of a different element to their offense,” McDaniels said. “He has the ability to move out of the pocket. He’s dangerous outside the pocket. He’s made a lot of plays for them already, from what I’ve seen. It appears he has a tight grasp of what they’re trying to do offensively.”
McDaniels speaks as if Cutler is just another quarterback, as if nothing happened between them. And why should he? What good would it do McDaniels now to explain why he had at least a passing interest in acquiring his former quarterback Matt Cassel from the New England Patriots?
“I’m not going to go into specifics about that whole situation of what they said and what I said,” Cutler said Wednesday by conference call with the Denver media. “It’s done and it’s over with. At the end of the day, we both felt it was better to go into different directions, and I think both sides are happy.”
Why should Cutler go back to a stormy controversy where he was characterized as a whiny prima donna, when he can bask in the adulation only fans of Da Bears can bestow?
Why? Because, with the Broncos playing the Bears – not in Chicago but in the far more dramatic setting of Denver – a nationally televised audience no doubt will ponder: Why, oh, why is Cutler no longer here?
“For my money, the story hasn’t been told in a manner where I’d like to know (all) the details about it,” said Cris Collinsworth, who will join Al Michaels in calling the Broncos-Bears game for NBC. “We’re all going to be out there asking questions, and my guess is we’re not going to hear much of anything from the principals involved.”
Collinsworth is a good guesser. McDaniels may want to avoid all conversation regarding his past contentious episode with Cutler, and Cutler may suddenly sound like a coach instead of his usual candid self when the subject is McDaniels.
But just like “I’m a man! I’m 40!” is indelibly attached to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, McJaygate will continue to follow McDaniels and Cutler. Even by accident.
A little-known fact is that the NFL assigned this preseason game to NBC a good 72 hours before the Broncos executed the trade that sent Cutler and a fifth-round draft pick (receiver Johnny Knox), to the Bears in exchange for quarterback Kyle Orton, a first-round pick this season (Robert Ayers), a third-round pick (packaged with another pick to draft tight end Richard Quinn) and a first-round pick in 2010.
That means NBC got this game three days before anyone outside Dove Valley and Halas Hall knew the Bears were involved in the Cutler trade discussions.
“Pure happenstance,” NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol said. “Sometimes things are all serendipity.”
Once Broncos owner Pat Bowlen announced Cutler’s failure to communicate left the franchise no choice but to trade its star quarterback, the Broncos engaged in simultaneous discussions with the Bears and Washington Redskins.
In part because Orton was deemed a better fit for McDaniels’ offense than Washington quarterback Jason Campbell, Cutler was sent to Chicago.
For so many people outside Chicago, it wasn’t where Cutler wound up so much as he went anywhere at all.
“I was stunned,” Collinsworth said. “You don’t see a guy that can do the things that Jay Cutler can do at 25 years of age being traded. You just don’t.”
Orton is now what Cutler isn’t – the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Has Orton overheard any of the Cutler hype this week?
“Nope,” he said.
Like McDaniels and Cutler, Orton won’t go there either. Maybe they’re right. McJaygate was so yesterday.
Times, and uniforms, have changed. Welcome to Ort-ler Week.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.