Cutler admits to feeling pressure in tough situation
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter December 15, 2013 8:04PM
Updated: December 15, 2013 10:03PM
CLEVELAND — Jay Cutler had never been under more pressure, coach Marc Trestman surmised Sunday.
“He had to handle a lot this week, probably more than any other time in his career,” Trestman said, “for a number of different reasons.”
Trestman was criticized for his decision to start Cutler over red-hot backup Josh McCown once Cutler recovered from a left high ankle sprain.
After Cutler proved Trestman right, completing 22 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, he admitted to the pressure.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was, with everything on the outside, as well as Josh has played, but this was the plan all along,” Cutler said. “And no one really flinched in our building.”
National reports said they did — that players and management disagreed with the decision to sit McCown — but players said otherwise.
“You got a guy, Josh McCown, playing lights-out,” wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. “Probably playing the best football, better than any quarterback in the National Football League.
“I would be crapping my pants if I was [Cutler]. I can only imagine the commentators, the fans back home, after the first or second pick, what they were saying. I’m sure they were ready to hang him.
“But this team has been resilient all year when facing adversity.
“Really good all year. It was nothing short of that [Sunday].”
Marshall said the organization was in a tough position with the decision, but “there’s no quarterback competition” on the Bears.
Cutler called the controversy “a lot of stuff swirling” — Trestman characterized it as “noise” — and said he knew people debated the decision.
“We kinda had to lock ourselves in that building,” Cutler said, “and rally around each other.”
Cutler was pleased with the offense’s evolution since his last full game more than two months ago.
“We caught some defenses we could take advantage of,” Cutler said. “The offense as a whole was getting better and better.
“Everyone was getting a feel for what’s happening.
“Take today, for example. Two picks early, and the guys rally and make big-time plays. . . .
“So I had to look at it that way, knowing that whether I’m there or Josh is there, we’ve got some guys around us that can make some football plays. So just let them do it. Stay outta the way.”
He did that, converting 9 of 14 third downs on play-calls that, Trestman said, indicated the Bears “weren’t gonna change our game plan or play to protect him.”
Physically, he held up fine, escaping with only a fourth-quarter cleating.
He didn’t escape controversy completely: When Marshall was asked about Cutler’s historically slow starts, he said Cutler was not “surrounded by adequate coaches” in years past and that “there were times where he didn’t have the best support upstairs and around him on the field.”
Not this year, though.
“Just trying to win games,” Cutler said. “That’s all we’re trying to do. That’s all the quarterback room is about, just winning games.
“And whoever’s in there is in there. Right now, I’m in there.”