Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who was a bit of a handful early in his own career, has been speaking out lately regarding a couple of quarterbacks who play in the division where he was a star in the ’70s.
Earlier this year, Tarkenton took aim at Brett Favre for the manner in which he has treated the Packers. Tarkenton went so far as to hope that Favre’s tenure with the Vikings results in failure.
More recently, Tarkenton has taken aim at Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
“I really question whether he can play,” Tarkenton said of Cutler during a Friday appearance on The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago.
“Quarterbacks need to make their team better,” Tarkenton said. “If it’s a bad team, they can even make a bad team better. Somebody may say well, even Peyton Manning couldn’t help the Bears. Yes, he could. Tom Brady could, too. They might not win the championship or get to the playoffs, but they would make that team better. Those wide receivers who are struggling would be better because they would make them better. . . .
“Jay Cutler had every opportunity to make plays for his team last night and every opportunity he didn’t. That’s how I judge a quarterback: Either you make plays or you don’t. I don’t even want to talk about mechanics.”
Cutler threw five interceptions on Thursday night in a 10-6 loss to the 49ers. The last pick came in the end zone, on a drive that could have delivered a victory.
Tarkenton offered some advice to Cutler, despite risking the wrath of the FCC.
“If Jay Cutler is not comfortable with the offense or the way they are calling the plays, he ought to go in there and tell that coach [expletive],” Tarkenton said. “Dan Fouts came into the league and for the first couple of years he was struggling. He said, ‘What do you do?’ I said, ‘Dan, if you’re not willing to go tell your head coach or your coordinator to kiss off, then you can’t play quarterback in this league.’”
So now we know what the problem was between Tarkenton and original Vikings coach Norm Van Brocklin. Tarkenton apparently told Van Brocklin to “kiss off” one time too many, and Tarkenton was traded to the Giants. Then he apparently told coach Alex Webster to “kiss off” one time too many, and Tarkenton was traded back to the Vikings.
And then if Tarkenton had tried to tell Bud Grant to “kiss off,” Tarkenton would still be limping from the application of Grant’s shoe to Fran’s fanny.
Still, we think we agree with Tarkenton’s assessment of Cutler. He’s not good enough to overcome bad coaching. And that will serve only to increase the possibility that there will be a new coach in Chicago next season.
Possibly a certain head coach who has shown that he knows how to get the most out of Cutler.