Rift between Denver, Cutler didn’t have to happen

Quarterback Jay Cutler was a no-show Monday for new head coach Josh McDaniels' first team meeting. (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler was a no-show Monday for new head coach Josh McDaniels' first team meeting. (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

The showdown between Jay Cutler and the Broncos was avoidable.

Coach Josh McDaniels created a problem in an area where there wasn’t a problem. You have a coach who came in — for some reason — looked at the Broncos roster and decided that the quarterback was the first thing that needed to be fixed. A quarterback who threw 45 touchdown passes over the last two seasons. A quarterback who has evolved and improved his play each season and become a franchise quarterback. A quarterback who made the first of many Pro Bowls.

The offense ranked second in the NFL last season, but the defense ranked 29th. If I was a coach who took over the Broncos, I would say, “If we fix the defense, we are a playoff team.”

That’s why you hire Mike Nolan. Instead, McDaniels the let the genie out of the bottle and might not be able to get it back.

Cutler is well liked by his teammates and formed a bond with Brandon Marshall. Veterans such as Brandon Stokley and Daniel Graham, along with some of the younger guys such as Tony Scheffler and Eddie Royal, have blossomed because Cutler was able to grasp Mike Shanahan’s system — which isn’t easy. Cutler could have learned McDaniels’ system, but wasn’t given a chance under an administration which instead went after a familiar quarterback, Matt Cassel. Cutler has established himself as a franchise quarterback for the Broncos in such a short period of time. Cassel was good last year, but he wouldn’t have been 10-5 without Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Bill Belichick as the coach.

That was insulting to Cutler.

But McDaniels didn’t think it through, and didn’t have a backup plan if the Cassel deal didn’t work out. Now where do they go?

They can’t get that genie back in the bottle. They can’t appease Cutler in any way. Cutler took the first step and set up a conference call and that went awry. Cutler reported for voluntary mini-camps and agreed to meet with the coach and owner. That went awry. Now, twice they have tried to bring all of the parties together and it didn’t work out. What could the Broncos possibly say now that they haven’t said in those meetings? And why would Cutler ever believe them?

The Broncos have to trade Cutler, or both the coach and quarterback will be questioned after every loss.

Of all of the Broncos’ options, I like Cleveland and Brady Quinn as an option. Quinn grew up under Charlie Weis‘ system and comes highly recommended. He has the arm strength and can make throws. But more importantly, he is a guy who can stand up in front of the media and win over the local people with his charm and charisma that would help the fans move on. There are other teams that will be mentioned, like Detroit, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Houston. Coach Gary Kubiak runs Shanahan’s system, the same system Cutler was reared in. He’s going to get a lot of interest. If you asked most GMs, I would think they would be unanimous in saying that Cutler is a franchise quarterback.

Well, everybody except for Denver.

Solomon Wilcots

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