Okay, I'm as tired of this as anyone, and I muttered to myself after my last posted comment that I was done with this whole mess--no more feeding the flames of a fire that had already burned way too long. But that was before I heard Trent Dilfer holding forth on Sportscenter this evening. I like what Trent said: that this situation could actually work out well for both parties.
Jay needs to build some mental toughness as part of his maturation as a QB, and this could be part of that process. Realizing that he's not the teacher's pet anymore (I'm paraphrasing liberally here...) could light a fire under him that will make him a better quarterback. Like it or not--and I'm not saying it was always a bad thing--Shanny coddled Jay. There was never any question, from the day he benched Jake and put the ball in the hands of the kid from Vandy, that Cutler was his guy. Now Cutler's received a possibly harsh reminder that football is a business, and he's got something to prove again, and it might just make him a better player.
For McD's part, Dilfer pointed out that--like Parcells and Belichick--he is sending a clear message that no one's job is safe--that players can't rest on their laurels or take their position for granted. Dilfer not only suggested that the edginess that that message can create in a locker room can make for a hungrier, more motivated team, but also that Denver has lacked just this quality in recent years. When he said that, a lightbulb went on for me. The same lightbulb that flickered when Shanny was fired and a small voice inside me said "yes, it is time." Shanahan's ability to motivate his team had dimmed over time as that glare of his lost its cutting edge and his players got too comfortable! If Jay's now a little less comfortable, and if the rest of the team is too... well, maybe it'll turn out better for the Denver Broncos.
I like Trent's take: that which does not kill us makes us stronger. This whole team needs a shot of mental toughness, and this is Cutler's trial by fire. I hope he responds.