The player most responsible for keeping Jay Cutler clean Sunday was Jay Cutler.
The quarterback did a number of things well. What he did best was avoid pressure.
Cutler moved in the pocket before throwing six times. Cutler also rolled out four times. And he took off and ran two times. That added up to movement on 34 percent of his dropbacks.
Admit it, Obamaphiles, there was a part of you that was a teeny bit relieved about the outcome of Tuesday's primaries. As much as you think you want Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the picture so you can love your man with uninterrupted, full-time ardor, you're just not quite ready to cut Clinton loose. She's just too fundamental, too necessary, too much like a sofa you think you hate but, while attempting to move it through the doorway, realize is crucial to the look and feel of the room.
- Jay Cutler
- Brandon Marshall
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What do you do in this situation? You keep the sofa a little while longer.
I've written about Clinton enough times to know that it's impossible to mention her name without eliciting a mortar round from every possible ideological corner. I've been called a castrating feminist, a reprehensible anti-feminist, an ungrateful brat, a bloviating elitist, a liberal, a neocon, funny, not funny, brilliant, moronic, entitled to my opinion and deserving of certain unprintable acts.
So I know that calling Clinton a sofa will provoke all manner of feverish retorts. A certain species of humorless Hillary defender will see my metaphor as belittling and misogynistic. A certain species of humorless Hillary hater will use it as an occasion to say something perverted and awful. And for all I know, there is a Sofa Anti-Defamation League, which will bristle at the mere comparison between America's favorite lounging apparatus and America's most polarizing human being. You think I'm exaggerating, but you don't see my e-mail.
That said, I still think of Clinton as a sofa, and here's why: Without her, we can't quite relax. Without her, something is missing. There's a strange echo in the room. There's an empty space on the floor. There's nothing for the dog to furtively leap onto as soon as we leave the house.
Let's face it, that's no way to live. Barack Obama, that sleek Eames chair of a man, may be sexier and hipper than Clinton, but he hasn't yet matured to the level of the indispensable sofa. And until he makes voters comfortable enough to kick off their shoes and fall asleep in front of the TV (rather than sitting up to avoid choking on their adoring drool), more than a few Obama supporters will quietly hope Clinton stays in the race just a little longer.
Before Tuesday, the pundits had tapped Obama as the inevitable -- and deserving -- Democratic nominee. But as I went about my business in non-pundit land, I began hearing an interesting refrain. People who'd voted enthusiastically for Obama said that as the Clinton campaign's death knell began ringing (or was that the theme music to "Anderson Cooper 360"?) they began to have second thoughts.
"I love Obama, but now I feel bad for Hillary," more than one person told me. "It's not that I want her to win. I just hate the thought of her losing."
This might at first seem like a slight variation of the sentiment I noted not long ago: "I wish I could like her, but somehow I just don't, and that's making me feel guilty."
But this new iteration is different. Instead of revealing a secret antipathy among potential Clinton supporters, it shows the extent to which Obamaphiles may see her as the net beneath his high-wire act. He is, after all, a lot more fun to watch and think about than she is. But isn't at least some of that the result of her being so decidedly un-fun? If they were co-parents, Obama would be the perennial buyer of ice cream cones and Clinton would be the enforcer of bath time.
The style-versus-substance argument is, of course, the very point the Clintons have been pushing for weeks. But one needn't buy into it to see the ways in which Obama -- and, by extension, his supporters -- could still use a little more time with Hillary.
That's not to say we shouldn't get this thing done. The candidates are now poised to go after one another in ways that threaten the democratic process as well as the Democratic Party. Still, just as my mail is considerably livelier with Hillary around, it's a lot more sporting to watch two fascinating people duke it out than to watch one fascinating person run victory laps in preparation for the next event.
In any case, you can't watch sports -- or politics -- without some kind of reclining device. Will we keep the familiar sofa named Hillary, or go for the Obama Eames chair?
May the best lounger win.
The eight plays in which he moved or ran on his own could have been sacks.
And get this — every time Cutler moved, something good happened, or should have happened.
On the 10 times he threw after moving, he completed eight passes and drew a pass-interference penalty that set up a touchdown. His only incompletion should have been a 42-yard touchdown pass, but Brandon Marshall let a perfectly placed ball slip through his hands in the end zone.
The focus on Cutler's 13-yard touchdown pass to Matt Spaeth has understandably been on his superb throw and Spaeth's fine catch. But neither would have been possible had Cutler not avoided Allen first by rolling left.
One of my favorite Cutler plays from Sunday was a loss of 1 yard on a screen play to Michael Bush. It easily could have been a loss of 6. But it wasn't because Cutler avoided the blitzing Antoine Winfield by taking five quick steps back after his initial drop and then got the pass off.
Here is what else we learned after a second look.
Grading key: Grades are between 0 and 10 with 0 being complete failure and 10 being perfect.
Cutler didn't make many NFL highlight reels, but he gets high marks for composure (except for tossing the football at A.J. Jefferson and drawing an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty), poise and savvy. His longest completion of the day was 20 yards.
He avoided mistakes well. Even his one interception probably should not have been an interception. Marshall reached up and tipped it with one hand, and the pass could have been caught.
J'Marcus Webb bounced back in a big way after a terrible performance six days earlier. Webb was one-on-one with Allen 40 percent of the time, and he kept the four-time All-Pro at bay by using sound technique.
Webb had help on other plays, mostly from tight ends Spaeth and Kellen Davis, but also from backs and other linemen.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice did a nice job of giving Webb help early to see how he was playing, and then letting him handle Allen alone more as the game went on. Tice also helped the linemen by calling for only one deep pass in the game.