Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's Michael Wilbon stops by to chat and share his thoughts on the sports world.
Wilbon, a longtime Washington Post sports columnist, is co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, the popular weekday sports debate and discussion program, as well as an NBA studio analyst for both ESPN and ABC. A pioneer in sports journalism, Wilbon was one of the first sports writers to broaden his success beyond newspapers to include television, radio and other media.
Send your questions now and join Wilbon Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:33 PM)
Hey gang, we're experiencing a few technical difficulties. Be patient and we'll work it out. Wilbon is still answering your questions and we'll get them posted here as soon as we can.
Ali Nagib (Chicago)
For all the kvetching about Cutler, the Bears D, Hester, the coaching and everything else that went wrong (or didn't go right enough yesterday), isn't the biggest reason that the Bears lost yesterday that their offensive line is the worst in the league? Even an average offensive line probably keeps Cutler upright, or at least gives Caleb Hanie an extra tick to prevent the game-losing INT return.
Michael Wilbon (1:47 PM)
Hi everybody...still recovering, like Bears fans everywhere, from the NFC Championship game loss yesterday, Rarely, if ever, have I seen Chicago that angry after a defeat...certainly the worst since the Bartman game (sorry)...So, that's where we'll begin and probably end.As to this question, I'll give you that the Bears offensive line gave Cutler and Hanie little time to throw. The offense has had to work around the line all season, and it did get better in the second half of the season, though it clearly isn't a very good line. But, Matt Forte was able to run reasonably well. I didn't think the O-line was awful yesterday. I'd give the unit a C...Lovie made one decision that could have been a good one (defering after winning the coin toss) but backfired on him, and another (making Todd Collins) the No. 2 QB) that was absolutely awful, whether it was made by Lovie or Mike Martz...It's inexplicable that Todd Collins can at this point be anybody's No. 2 QB. Please.Having said all that, the Bears biggest problem was and will continue to be the starting QB. Jay Cutler was terrible. I'm going to steal a line that somebody said or wrote in Chicago this morning: It's not that Cutler isn't tough enough (he took shots all season and never says boo); it's that he's not good enough. He missed throws that Hanie made, that 20 QBs in the league could make, including two to Devin Hester, both of which should have been touchdowns. Other NFL QBs, current and former, think Cutler doesn't work at the fundamentals and it gets him in trouble, especially with a porous offensive line. That's why,if you're a Bears fan, you spend most of the game hoping he won't goof up, which is too bad considering the talent Cutler has. you're asking me, and my response is Cutler was a bigger problem yesterday than the line...
Maybe cutler does have a slight MCL tear, that means he shouldn't support teammates on sideline or help Hanie or Collins? Or should you just stand on sideline with a terrible injured knee and day dream of vacation?
Michael Wilbon (1:49 PM)
You raise a very important point, one which several former Bears brought up to me last night after the game.
Michael Wilbon (1:51 PM)
By the way, for those wo haven't heard the reports this afternoon are now that Cutler does have either a torn or partially torn MCL, which was the speculation last night as well. Anyway, the complaint from the former playres, and some current players around the league, is that the objection to Cutler is that he is simply lacking as a teammate, that he didn't grab the pictures and try to help Collins or Hanie.
Michael Wilbon (1:53 PM)
One former Bears player who attended the game told me he put a pair of field glasses on Cutler the entire time to see if he was helping and Cutler did nothing. I have no reason to doubt the former player who told me this. And I have had one current Bears player tell me Cutler's pouting was far worse than any interception he threw, that he often goes to the end of the bench when upset and talks to nobody. What QB has ever been successful with that personality? Seriously. Seems to me his teammates were far more supportive of him, particularly Kreutz and Urlacher, than Cutler was of the backups.
shame on you Wilbon. You are a meat head like everyone else. Calling out someone who had a torn MCL. Anyone who saw Cutler play all year and take hit after hit, knows he is not soft
Michael Wilbon (1:53 PM)
What were you reading, or pretending to read. The second paragraph of my column on ESPN.com says I will not question Cutler's injury or his heart. Do you need me to read it to you aloud? What part of it can't you understand, that I will NOT question Jay Cutler's injury or his heart. Huh? Players, current and former, did that, not me. Get your facts straight, Ryan.
When I saw Todd Collins warming up I couldn't believe it, honestly I rather have had forte back there throwing like he did against the seahawks, he only had one interception...Someone should be help accountable for this grievous mistake
Michael Wilbon (1:54 PM)
You can't have Todd Collins as your No. 2 QB, plain and simple. Martz and Lovie have no way of knowing this, but as a Bears fan of 47 years I KNOW. It's an unforgivably bad decision. I don't want to hear about what Collins does in practice. He can't play. He couldn't play in his last stop. He's a classic No. 3 guy, a future coach who might have some success. But there's no way he can stand in against the Green Bay Packers and play. The Packers defenders knew that when they saw him warming up, too.
With this scenario not even a day old yet, this may be a bit premature to ask, but where do the Bears go from here? Do you see Cutler still being this franchise's QB or do they begin to look elsewhere?
Michael Wilbon (1:58 PM)
Great question. It's not too early, is it? Let's face it, we're all wondering. I don't think anything dramatic is going to happen regarding Cutler. When you give up as much as the Bears did to get him (four draft picks, two first-rounders_ you've got to keep him, especially when the guy is 27, 28 years old. Plus that, QBs are hard to come by, very hard. Hell, the Bears have gotten it right once (McMahon) since Sid Luckman and he's been retired 61 years.
Michael Wilbon (2:04 PM)
Mike Martz, who was critical last week of Cutler's fundamentals, and is in charge of getting him to improve all the stuff he doesn't do well, starting with footwork, seems confident Cutler can get there. I'm less worried about that than I am a guy with that personality playing the position at the highest level. Ask yourself this, what Super Bowl QB has ever been that sour, so without charisma? How do you follow him? Why would you? Think about the guys playing the position well, whether you like them or not and whether the're flawed or not .. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers .. these have have well-definted personalities and they know how to communicate and inspire teammates at a level we've yet to see from Cutler.
Michael Wilbon (2:07 PM)
QB is the most imporant, most demanding position in sportrs and the guy playing the position from the Bears needs a personality transplant. He's got all the physical tools INCLUDING THE TOUGHNESS. But when you play that position, and you receive so little doubt from your professional peers, something's wrong. So, they're going to hav eto work on Cutler. I don't knkow who can mentor him besides Martz, or who can impress upon him that is personaility IS important ... But the Bears are going to have to get busy ... "coaching him up." Steve Spurrier always says ... I don't think it's impossible; I just want to know who is going to be in charge of that mission. The guy Martz had previously, Kurt Warner, is such a leader. The Cardinals players were sick when he retired; Larry Fitzgerald would run through a ring of fire for him. Warner exuded a natural charm... Has anybody used Cutler and "charm" in the same sentence? Is it important to have some? If you're a middle linebacker or left tackle, no. QB? Look at the guys throughout history who've had some. McMahon ooozed charisma. Yeah, it's necessary at that position.
Really. It was all Cutler's fault? He's got a two wide receivers...one is a 2nd year guy drafted in the 5th round, the other played CB in college. His offensive line is awful. All the money was spent on the defense which isn't elite like the Steelers or Ravens typically are. The best thing you can say about our coach is that his guys "play hard" for him.Cutler carried that offense all year to at least a respectable level. Was he Peyton Manning, no...but he wasn't Gus Frerrote either.
Michael Wilbon (2:15 PM)
Very fair comment. I did see Cutler miss Devin Hester twice yesterday on plays that should have (and would have) resulted in touchdowns. Can't blame that on the receivers ... even though I agree with you on the Bears approach with upgrading the offensive side of the ball. I agree with you there 100 percent. Thanks.
Michael, HUGE fan! Keep up the good work! One thing I can say from this whole situation is - after the way people have ripped Cutler... now that it is confrimed he has an MCL tear. Who can blame him for not talking to the media?
Michael Wilbon (2:16 PM)
The media isn't Cutler's problem. Show me a columnist or TV person out there who questioned his toughness. Seriously, tell me one. PLAYERS ripped him. Players. What's he going to do, not talk to them?
Why does Todd Collins even still have a job this morning? He should have been waived after the Carolina game.
Michael Wilbon (2:16 PM)
Ah, yes. Didn't he throw three or four picks in that game? You're absolutely right.
William (Norfolk va)
Your wrong wilbon, hanie even said Cutler helped him on the sidelines, your simply not a Cutker fan so you would never back him.
Michael Wilbon (2:20 PM)
I said I believed the former Bears who said they watched the two of them and Cutler didn't help Hanie. I'm not a big fan of Cutler's, but I don't hate or dislike him. Actually, we have something in common that always tends to make me root for him and this was before he was traded to the Bears. We were both diagnosed as being Diabetic around the same time, within a couple weeks of each other. A professional athlete playing with Diabetes? I admire that. So, even when Cutler was a Bronco I quietly hoped he'd play really well and lead Denver to the playoffs (especially since I really hate the Chargers and their play-when-we-want mentality) ... Anyway, I dislike some of the things Cutler has done, primarily saying his arm is stronger than John Elway's. It's an insane thing to say, and even it's true, what in the world does it mean in terms of playing QB? I want to see Cutler win, because it means the Bears win. But my job is that of a critic, so I have to look at his play with a critical eye. Sorry if you see that as not being a fan.
Caleb Hanie (Chicago, IL)
For those of you who think Jay did nothing to help me out, check out my comments on the Waddle & Silvy show today. "He helped me out numerous times throughout the game," Hanie said. "When I went in, first of all he came and talked to me and said, 'Hey, trust yourself, trust your reads, use your feet if you have to; don't be afraid to do that. Trust the o-line and you'll be fine.' That calmed me down a little bit.
Michael Wilbon (2:21 PM)
Thanks for that.
Hyde Park Dave (Washington D.C.)
You can follow a leader as long as YOUR LOCKER ROOM believes in him. I have heard nothing bad about Cutler by ANY PLAYER or COACH! You just talked about on PTI how the Bears have a quiet confidence, and you praised him for it. Why can't the QB just follow the lead of his coach, and his offense follow him? Oh and Brad Johnson won a Super Bowl...you remember his charm? Players can be jerks and put a smile on. Some people just dont do it. He's still a human being
Michael Wilbon (2:21 PM)
I'm going to publish these responses just so people can see how all over the place opinion is ... thanks for this.
His team mates can't respect him
Michael Wilbon (2:22 PM)
Thanks for this as well.
Does Blake Griffin deserve an All-Star spot?
Michael Wilbon (2:25 PM)
Yes, Blake Griffin deserves a spot on the All-Star team. If we did this by performance, wouldn't it be Kevin Durant and Griffin starting at forward? I believe Tim Duncan, who will be voted in, should start. I'm fine with the system as it is. But wouldn't Griffin be ahead of Carmelo whose play has been affected by the trade talk, ahead of Dirk who has missed a lot of time with injury ... maybe behind Pau Gasol ... The All-Star Game is a showcase of individual talent, and NOBODY has demonstarted more individual talent this season than Blake Griffin. I'd like to see Kevin Love on the team as well, but it's harder to make the case for him than it is for Griffin. The Clippers, because of Griffin, have shown some spark and at one point won 10 of 15 games. The T-Wolves haven't had that kind of spike in play.. but Love and Griffin are certainly worth watching in the All-Star Game.
Chris (San Diego)
I wonder if the Cutler personality thing is really an issue for the Bears. Coaches and players don't have any issue with him or his personality. Is the issue really the media and fans not liking a guy that doesn't fit our "Brett Favre is like a kid out there!" mentality?
Michael Wilbon (2:28 PM)
Just because the Bears passionately defended Cutler's toughness yesterday doesn't mean they don't have a problem with his personality. I know first-hand from conversations with multiple players that some do. I didn't say all, I said some. It is a problem. Don't confuse toughness with personality. They're two different things, and while it doesn't matter much for lots of positions in football, it matters for the QB.
Gino (Lafayette, LA)
First let me say Michael, I enjoy your work. Keep it up. But can Jay really recover from this? Torn MCL or not he was walking up and down the sidelines a year removed from the whole nation watching Brett Favre play against the Saints on an ankle the size of a grapefruit!
Michael Wilbon (3:39 PM)
Cutler's image is certainly taking a beating, isn't it? And from football players, too. See, here's the rub. Every columnist I've read today either defending Cutler's toughness, or said what I did, which was that I'm not about to question his toughness or the injury he suffered. It's the players who are ripping him via Twitter or on the radio. Did you hear Steve McMichael on radio last night after the game? Wow. I just don't know if you can lead a team if you don't have the respect of your peers, in any industry. Maybe Jay is SO tough he won't pay attention, or he will and it could bury him. I kept thinking a bunch of players from around the league or former players would come to his rescue today... hasn't happened. What has to happen here? Does he have to have surgery for people to believe he's really injured?
Robert (lompoc ca)
what grade would you give the lakers through the mid part of this season?
Michael Wilbon (3:41 PM)
Lakers grade to this point? B+. Can't be less than that. They're about where they should be and usually are. They don't run off from the field like Michael Jordan's Bulls did. That's not their M.O. In three of their five championship seasons under Phil Jackson the Lakers didn't win 60 games. They're content to pace themselves, and it's worked so far, so I'm not one of those who thinks there's something wrong with them. I wrote a couple of weeks ago, after talkign with Jackson and Kobe, that NOTHING was wrong, that this is business-as-usual for the Lakers, and I'm going to have to see a real dropoff before I join the sky-is-falling chorus.
Michael Wilbon (3:42 PM)
Man, we could do this for hours. The venting is good for everybody, I think. And it's not going to stop. Cutler is going to be the No. 1 topic of discussion for at least a few more days ... though I'm going to be ready in a day or two to shift my full attention to the Bulls and Derrick Rose. OK, I gotta run and prepare for PTI.. thanks, everybody, for chatting, and we'll do this next Monday, from Dallas, to start Super Bowl week ... MW