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Ten Foot Mailbag: Does A Cutler Contract Hinge On The Playoffs?

By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) Preseason football is awful.

It's something between a tease and a chore to watch (even without Chris Berman calling the game) that at times fills fans with wrong impressions of stars and fringe players, and I'm totally on the side of players who wish there were less games before the regular season if for nothing more than to cut down on the number of injuries that happen in exhibition games. But I do watch because, hey, football.

Thursday night the Bears took on the San Diego Chargers, and Jay Cutler only threw to Brandon Marshall, and Jon Bostic took another human being's soul, and we may have a clearer picture of the offensive line, and only the third-string quarterback got injured. And when the game was over, we were left largely apathetic barring something catastrophic as we'll continue to be until Week 1 of the regular season.

I noticed something interesting, though. Late in the fourth quarter Trent Dilfer was building a verbal shrine to former Bear Brian Urlacher, and it dawned on me—I don't miss Urlacher. The only time he entered my mind was when Dilfer or Berman mentioned him. At one point Dilfer, regarding the future Hall of Famer's absence, said, "If feels different." No, it actually didn't. I have no lingering attachment issues from losing the face of the franchise. I don't long for him patrolling the middle of the field. Not sure what that says about me. Perhaps it's the savagery of football and how if a guy can't play the machine moves on without him. Hopefully he's enjoying his retirement.

Weekend. Fill the void.

On to your correspondence.

I doubt that's the deciding factor when Phil Emery sits down with Cutler's representation after this season. Yes, he's the most important player on the team, but I doubt that should the Bears miss the postseason it will be due largely to Cutler (unless it's due to his absence because of a serious injury).

The Bears have a seemingly solid defense, but it's also one of the league's oldest, and they've been extremely lucky in recent years by not having major injuries to most of their star veterans on that side of the ball. We in Chicago wondered year after year when Paul Konerko would stop defying the age odds. Well…

Besides the nearly unstoppable Brandon Marshall save double teams and pass interferences, does the Bears receiving corps get you excited? I think Alshon Jeffery can potentially be a stud, but he missed six games of his rookie year and only had 24 catches. He has a lot to prove still. Earl Bennett's concussion makes me nervous and could be a recurring issue throughout the season. Martellus Bennett is a big upgrade at TE, and then there's the rest.

There's a rookie coach installing a new system, the 43rd Cutler has had to play in in his career. But Marc Trestman was hired in big part because of his presumed ability to get the most out of Cutler. While the Bears have lots of talent, they have no easy road ahead of them. Emery understands that, and he'll evaluate Cutler fairly considering all the factors of this year, as well as gauge the free agent market (which seems to be in Cutler's favor), and look at the draft potential. Unless Cutler forgets how to play quarterback or suffers an injury that calls his future into question, I doubt he will individually do anything to absolutely torpedo Emery's interest in him.

I'm not rooting for Dane Sanzenbacher to get cut, and I've never had anything against the guy personally. If the Bengals feel he's earned a spot on their team, good for him, and I hope he makes the most of his opportunity against everyone but the Chicago Bears. Cincinnati has some injury concerns at wide receiver, and Sanzenbacher's ability to play special teams certainly helps his cause. He's in a decent situation right now.

The error several people made when reading my piece from Monday was in thinking it was putting Sanzenbacher in the crosshairs, even though the headline plainly states "Let's Mock People Still In Love With Dane Sanzenbacher." It's making fun of people who think the guy is something special or more than a bubble guy on a roster. So when Ramzy Nasrallah of a pretty solid Ohio State blog that I've followed for a while on Twitter calls me a miserable a-hole, that's him having his delicate sensibilities offended by someone not talking glowingly about something tangentially related to his favorite amateur team and letting that cloud his sense of humor (and he apparently never caught wind of the tongue-in-cheek Chicago Bears fan love of Sanzenbacher). I'm a Notre Dame fan, but I'm not rooting for Tom Zbikowski to make the Bears just because he tries really hard. If he earns a spot, okay. If he isn't good enough, I don't want him on the Bears. If he makes the squad but his play hurts the team, I'll criticize him. Some people have a hard time compartmentalizing things like that, though.

And that speaks to a larger point. While the response to what I wrote was overwhelmingly positive, the negative tweets I received were all from Ohio State people. Not a single Bears or Bengals fan complained to me. I've noticed that while every pro sports team has its zealous weirdos, in my observation college fans seem to be way more tribal and defensive about their teams and players and are much more allergic to self-deprecating humor. It's as though if someone criticizes Team X from University of X, fans on average of that team get way saltier about it than fans of pro teams when they hear criticism. Learn to laugh at the teams you love, people. It makes sports viewing less of a chore.

It varies from restaurant to restaurant, but it's always a good idea to assume the driver does not get all or any of the delivery charge because a place giving the whole charge to the driver is very rare. Google "pizza delivery charge," and you'll see almost entirely reading that sides with the driver. Restaurants do this in order to cover their expenses like insurance or compensating the driver's gas. Sometimes it's merely to profit off your laziness. Under no circumstance should you factor the delivery charge into your tip (which the driver has no control over), just as you wouldn't factor a bartender's or server's hourly wage from the restaurant into your tip.

I get this question a lot, and it often boils down to the questioner just trying to find an excuse to justify being cheap (not that you necessarily are). People can be lazy, or people can be cheap. Being both makes someone a terrible person. At the end of the day, the driver is working for tips and doing so likely in his own car, putting lots of wear and tear on that, dealing with traffic hazards, weather, and risk of robbery, harm, and death, all to literally drive your meal to your home. Most people don't sit back and consider that a total stranger just drove food to them. What would it take for you to drive food to my house (not that I'd allow you over to my house)? All I'm asking for is $5 or 10% of the bill, whichever is greater, for you taking advantage of something extremely convenient. If you're looking to save money, don't exploit a delivery service. Never make your problems the driver's problems.

And here's your Angry Penn State Fan of the Week:

Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you're a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss.

Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to or tweet them to @TimBaffoe with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.

Jeff Pearl
The author. (credit: Jeff Pearl)

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America's youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim's inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don't follow him in real life. E-mail him at To read more of Tim's blogs click

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