Bears coach Lovie Smith has been subjected to much criticism for allowing Jay Cutler to meet with offensive coordinator candidates, which I struggle to fathom.
The only beef I would have with Smith was if he prevented Cutler from being part of this all-important process.
The tail is wagging the dog. The inmates are running the asylum. We've heard all the catch phrases that suggest Cutler is calling the shots here. It's an exaggeration. As has been written here and elsewhere before, the relationship between the offensive coordinator and the quarterback will be the most important in the entire organization. Given that, given that the franchise has made itself a pilot fish to Cutler's talent, why wouldn't you want Cutler to meet the man who he will spend countless hours with and who will help shape his legacy?
Nobody is suggesting that Cutler should have the final say. If I were Smith, I would evaluate candidates in numerous ways and Cutler's opinion would be an important part of that process. You don't want your quarterback of the present and future to be miserable. You want him to be happy and productive. You want him to be challenged and motivated and the new coordinator will be largely responsible for that and therefore his ability to connect with Cutler is a huge piece of the puzzle.
How can Smith investigate that connection if the two never meet?
Much has been made of Martz flying to Nashville, Tenn., to meet with Cutler on Saturday, as if it was a sign that he was bowing to the quarterback.
Look, Cutler has been part of the interview process from the start, which means he has either been hanging around Lake Forest or flying back and forth from Nashville to Chicago to sit down with candidates at Halas Hall. The Martz interview came up on short notice. As late as Wednesday evening, many sources inside Halas Hall didn't know that Martz was interviewing Friday. It's quite possible that Cutler had another commitment, some charity function or a buddy's wedding that prevented him from making the trip on such short notice. Maybe he'd just gotten back to Nashville after meeting Rogers on Thursday and Martz thought he'd do Cutler a favor by coming to him.
To claim this as an example that Cutler has an inordinate amount of power within the organization is a stretch.
There's another point that has been all but missed. If I were Martz or Kevin Rogers or Rob Chudzinski or Ken Zampese, I would want spent a few minutes with Cutler before committing to the Bears. I would want to at least get a first impression of what it might be like to work with somebody who could radically alter my career path for better or worse.
As everyone knows, there's plenty of reasons to be critical of Smith after the past three seasons.
Involving Cutler in the interview process shouldn't be one of them.