LAKE FOREST – One regret lingered for Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice in the hours and days that passed after his now-famous sideline snub by Jay Cutler.
“I wish they would have got the clip at the end of the game when he smacked me on the rear end,” Tice said with a grin Wednesday at Halas Hall. “They didn’t show that one. I wish they would have showed that one. And I smacked him back.
“But they didn’t show that one. They showed the other one. That’s the way it goes.”
It’s the way that life will continue to go for as long as Cutler remains the highly talented, easily irritated quarterback for one of the NFL’s most popular teams.
As the Bears (3-1) turned their focus to a Week 5 road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3), Cutler and Tice insisted that they had turned the page from an awkward moment Monday night in Dallas. Tice approached Cutler after a failed drive, but Cutler stood up and walked away the moment Tice sat next to him.
Cameras caught the incident, which showed Tice remaining seated with a confused look as Cutler grabbed a water bottle and kept his back turned to the coach.
By Wednesday, Tice was able to laugh at the exchange.
“He probably had enough of me telling him why the play didn’t work,” Tice said. “I get enough of me sometimes, too. I can talk a little bit, as you guys know.
“The heat of the battle, it’s tough. A lot of things happen on the sidelines. A lot of things happen over the course of a game. I was really angry about the fact that we didn’t [convert] that third-and-1. I was in his ear from the time he came off the field to the time he went over and put his helmet down. At a certain point, probably, enough’s enough.”
Despite his ability, Cutler has emerged as a lightning rod for criticism on nearly a weekly basis. He has drawn scrutiny for cursing at coaches on the field (remember his profane message for Mike Martz caught on national TV last season?), bumping teammates, berating officials, talking down to reporters and now walking away from his coordinator.
But the Bears did not acquire Cutler four seasons ago because he was a nice guy. They wanted his sharp football instincts and gifted right arm, which threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys for a remarkable 140.1 passer rating.
In his seventh NFL season and less than seven months from his 30th birthday, Cutler still does not understand why his attitude draws as much attention as his ability. He admitted to being surprised that his actions on the sideline drew so much scrutiny.
“A little bit,” Cutler said. “It probably shouldn’t, though, because it gets blown out of proportion every time. It’s part of the gig, I guess.”
Cutler said he spoke with Tice about the situation.
“We talk about it just because it’s so prevalent in the media for whatever reason,” Cutler said. “But it wasn’t an issue then and it’s not an issue now. We’re happy with the win. We’re looking forward to Jacksonville.”
On that point, Cutler and Tice agree.
All is well for the Bears, both on and off of the field. At least until the next controversy.
• Tom Musick covers Chicago professional sports for Shaw Media. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.