We made a habit last season of catching the weekly radio show of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers over on ESPN 540. In a relaxed but focused setting, Rodgers offered compelling behind-the-scenes analysis of the Packers' record-breaking offense and was not afraid to tackle issues surrounding the team, the NFL or Wisconsin sports in general.
It looks like Rodgers might have some competition for our listening ears, at least if the first edition of the "Jay Cutler Show" on ESPN 1000 is any indication. Speaking last Friday, Cutler said he would be "shocked" if tailback Matt Forte did not report for training camp, suggested former offensive coordinator Mike Martz wasn't flexible enough in the past two seasons, and reiterated his big-picture concerns about the Bears' offensive line.
The comments on Forte drew some national attention; they could be interpreted as undesirable pressure from a team leader on a private business matter. But in the end, what's more important is whether Forte reports in time for the regular season. It seems highly unlikely that he would risk a single installment of the $7.7 million he would be due by extending any holdout into Week 1.
What was more interesting to me: Cutler's consistently unvarnished assessment of the Bears' offensive line. Last month, Cutler noted the "question marks" that exist, accurately pointing out that several starting spots have yet to be determined. He also downplayed the idea that offensive coordinator Mike Tice can improve the line simply by adding more help from tight ends and running backs.
Given the chance to walk back or couch that analysis Friday, Cutler actually took it a bit further. He implied that some people in the organization weren't happy with his comments but insisted that the offensive line has been "at the forefront of my mind every year" of his Bears career.
Here are some excerpts from that discussion, via ESPNChicago.com:
"I talked to [center Roberto] Garza about it and asked if anyone was offended. He said no. He agreed with me. [I] didn't throw anyone under the bus, didn't name anybody specifically and say that they are a weak link. I just said until we get that front five, we'll see what happens. And I want those guys to push each other. I want them to compete and try to get in that starting lineup. Once we get those front five down and get a few weeks under their belt we're going to be fine… .
"The people in the Bears building are sometimes a little bit sensitive. You always want to be pro-Bears and compliment your teammates and stuff but ... over a three-year career here [the offensive line is] definitely at the forefront of my mind ever year. Until we get those front five hammered down we're still kind of up in the air offensively even though we've got some really, really talented guys on the outside."
I'll call it like I see (or hear) it with the "Jay Cutler Show," but I continue to think he is speaking the truth about the offensive line. Given his sack totals in three years, Cutler has every right to take a wait-and-see attitude with the Bears' latest plan. Offering false public praise for what is clearly a question mark would strain credibility. As Cutler said, we'll see how it goes.