Washington will head to Chicago on Sunday to face the Jay Cutler-led Bears as it looks to stay atop the NFC East heap. Besides the matchup’s playoff implications, adding further intrigue is that Cutler – whom the Bears acquired in a trade with Denver in 2009 – was minutes from being Washington’s quarterback, as ESPN’s John Keim writes.
“You know how much time I put into that? A lot. Months. Dan [Snyder] put in a lot, too,” said Vinny Cerrato, who was Washington’s executive vice president at the time. “It was disappointing because at times we thought we had a deal then they called and said, no. Then they called back and said, ‘Hold on. If the deal falls through, we’ll trade him to you.’ Then it was like, ‘No, it didn’t work.'”
Cutler hasn’t exactly been a franchise quarterback for the Bears, but he has fared better than the slew of passers Washington has used since failing to acquire him. Washington has started Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and current No. 1 Kirk Cousins throughout Cutler’s time in Chicago, Keim notes. Among that group, the club invested a fair amount in an ineffective McNabb and a boatload in RGIII, who hasn’t taken a snap this year and is all but guaranteed to be with another franchise next season.
Landing Cutler would’ve cost Washington plenty – a first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and QB Jason Campbell – but Cerrato believes Mike Shanahan’s presence would’ve helped make it worthwhile. Shanahan coached Cutler with the Broncos from 2006-08 and went on to hold the same position in Washington from 2010-13. Cutler threw 54 touchdowns against 37 interceptions in 37 games under Shanahan and amassed a career-best 4,526 passing yards in 2008.
“Mike knew him and what made him tick,” Cerrato said. “It would have given the organization a shot in the arm. Some like him and some don’t, but he’d have played his best football because of the way he is with Mike … It was like a punch in the gut.”
We’ll never know how another helping of Cutler-Shanahan would’ve gone, but one thing’s obvious: Had it happened, it would’ve changed both franchises dramatically – not necessarily for the better in either case, of course.
More from around the NFL as we draw closer to Washington-Chicago and the rest of Sunday’s Week 14 action:
- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones criticized the team’s coaching staff earlier this week. On Friday, he laid some of the blame for Dallas’ 4-8 record on himself – specifically for his handling of the backup quarterback position last offseason. “On the other hand, if you want to look at any aspect of this team you can say well, if we would have been in better shape had you had Matt Cassel in the spring, rather than (Brandon) Weeden, and I’m not trying to knock Weeden, but if we would have had a guy like Cassel in here than we might have made a difference there, so put that one ultimately on my shoulders for sure,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan, per Josh Clark of CBS DFW.
- Dolphins rookie receiver DeVante Parker – whom the team chose 14th overall in this year’s draft – started quietly but has come on strong over the last two weeks, combining for seven catches, 143 yards and two touchdowns. With Parker seemingly emerging as a playmaker and Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills also part of the Dolphins’ long-term receiving corps, the end of Rishard Matthews‘ tenure in Miami could come this offseason, according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero. Matthews, a fourth-year man who’s in the top two among Dolphins in receptions (43), targets (60), yards (662), yards per catch (15.4) and touchdowns (four) this year, is scheduled to hit free agency in a few months.
- Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was impressive on 12 carries against Denver last Sunday, rushing for 55 yards, but head coach Mike McCoy benched the first-round rookie because of fumbling issues. Gordon coughed the ball up twice in a 17-3 loss, giving him five fumbles on the season. McCoy’s decision to sit Gordon was wrong, Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune offers. In Canepa’s opinion, with the season effectively over for the 3-9 Bolts, McCoy and his staff should be coaching Gordon through his struggles and letting him play – not relegating him to the sideline.
- The final quarter of the season will provide some important answers for the Jaguars, writes Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Among them: the future statuses of receiver Marqise Lee, center Stefen Wisniewski, defenders Ryan Davis and Chris Smith, and kicker Jason Myers.