LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Two days after NFL Network analyst Mike Martz said that Jay Cutler “just doesn’t get it,” and broadcast partner Jim Mora suggested that he “acted like he didn’t even care,” the Bears' beleaguered quarterback dismissed the critiques as part of his job description.
“I heard briefly about it,” Cutler said of the negative talk on Wednesday afternoon, his designated media day. “We can’t worry about that. I can’t worry about that. We just worry about the guys in the locker room getting better.”
Several teammates were quick to run interference for their quarterback, something they had done several times this season already.
"Everyone that has been around (Cutler) — his teammates, former coaches — they know what type of player he is, what type of person he is," said head coach Lovie Smith, who had spent three seasons with Martz as a St. Louis Rams assistant.
"Totally uncalled for," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said of the remarks.
“My problem is, some people immediately take the side of ownership when they don’t know the whole story,” wide receiver Rashied Davis said. “That’s probably what bothers the players the most—we’re immediately in the wrong. We didn’t have any reason to react in the way we did.
“I don’t now what the situation is. I haven’t asked (Cutler) and I won’t ask him. All I know is, he’s Jay, and he plays to the best of his ability when he goes out there. He’s confident, and we believe in him. And he believes in us.”
In his forgettable Bears' debut, Cutler threw four interceptions in a 21-15 loss against the Packers in Green Bay last Sunday night. He didn’t appear to be on the same page as his receivers at times, and was guilty of several ill-advised pass attempts.
“Everybody has a bad game once in awhile,” Davis said. “It happens. No one’s perfect. Brett Favre has almost as many interceptions as touchdowns, you know? But when it’s Brett Favre, it’s because he tries to make a play. It’s not because he may have made a bad read.
“I don’t know what happens all the time with Favre or anybody else. But if (the media) like him, they’ll say something nice. It they don’t, they’ll say something negative—period.”
Dressed in a t-shirt and Bears hat, Cutler told reporters after the game, “It’s tough, but we’ve got 15 (games) more to play. There’s a lot of football left in this season.”
“When I saw that postgame press conference last night, I thought he looked completely immature,” Mora said on The Head Coaches show, an NFL Network production for which he and Martz serve as analysts.
Said Martz, “He doesn’t understand that he represents a great head coach and the rest of those players on that team...Somebody needs to talk to him.”
"First off, you have to look at the setting a little bit," Smith countered. "We had just come off of a tough loss to one of our rivals. I looked at Jay's comments that he made, and it's a little disappointing especially coming from a couple of former coaches to make those type of comments about Jay.
Mora said he could teach Cutler something about postgame behavior.
“Having always handled my postgame press conference in a professional way, I’m an authority on these types of things,” Mora said. “I just didn’t think he was very professional, very accountable. I could give him a tip or two.”
Actually, Mora was guilty of meltdown once himself. When asked about the playoffs possibilities late in the 2001 season, the then Indianapolis Colts head coach responded infamously, “What’s that? Uh, playoffs?! Don’t talk about—playoffs?! You kidding me? Playoffs?! I just hope we can win a game!”
Cutler has been criticized for his reluctance to accept responsibility in the past, but this time he shouldered at least some of the blame for what took place in the regular-season opener.
“We did some good things. We did some bad things,” Cutler said, who completed 17-of-36 passes for 277 yards and one touchdown. “Any time you put a defense in a hole like I did with four picks, it’s going to be tough. We got to limit that. But we did some good things out there. We made some plays. The receivers played well. The line played well. I just got to pick it up.”
Cutler said his primary focus was on the date with the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field on late Sunday afternoon.
“Everyone has ups and down in their careers,” Cutler said. “Most of the time when something like this happens to me, I usually bounce back. It’s not going to get me down. It really isn’t. I'm going to go out there and keep playing and keep practicing hard. You know, we’re going to keep slinging it.”