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Bears players, coaches rally around Cutler
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 9/16/2009 1:19 PM | Updated: 9/16/2009 11:05 PM

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Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is much more concerned with the opinions of his teammates than those of former NFL coaches Jim Mora and Mike Martz, who were critical of Cutler's postgame demeanor following Sunday night's loss to the Packers.

Cutler told reporters Wednesday he hadn't heard the criticism firsthand but had been briefed on it.

"We can't worry about that," Cutler said. "I can't worry about that. I just worry about the guys in the locker room and getting better. I'm worried about this offense, this team and how we're playing on a week-in, week-out basis. We're worried about the Steelers right now."

Monday night on "The Head Coaches on NFL Network" program, Mora said: "When I saw that postgame press conference ... I thought he looked completely immature. He acted like he didn't even care. I just didn't think he was very professional, very accountable."

Martz added: "He just doesn't get it. 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."

But Cutler clearly has the backing of his teammates and Bears coaches.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner reacted angrily to the comments of Martz and Mora, especially those questioning Cutler's leadership.

"He's as good a leader as I've ever been around," Turner said. "I could not be happier, and every guy in that locker room and everybody upstairs could not be happier with him and his demeanor and his leadership and the intangibles that he brings to the table. I don't care who said it and how much football they know and everything else, it's totally, totally off base.

"I know what coaches and players here feel. People who have been in that locker room with him, have been in the huddle with him, have been in meetings with him, (they) know what kind of leader he is. (They) know what he brings to the table. I've heard the receivers say he's as good a leader that we've had, and I've never heard guys say stuff like that.

"It's upsetting to hear that. If you want to talk about interceptions, talk about his play, that's one thing. But to talk about (leadership) when you don't know is totally, totally off base."

Teammates agree with Turner's assessment of Cutler and say they aren't worried about what outsiders think of their quarterback.

"I don't know what the perception is, but the reality of it is that he's great," tight end Greg Olsen said. "He has a lot of confidence in himself and what we're trying to do. But during the game he's calm, and he's in total control of what we're trying to do."

Asked if he was confident that Cutler would bounce back from Sunday's 4-interception nightmare, Olsen said: "No one around here is worried at all about Jay."

Bears coach Lovie Smith, who was the defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams when Martz was the head coach, also defended his quarterback.

"First off you have to look at the setting a little bit," Smith said. "We had just come off of a tough loss to one of our rivals. I looked at Jay's comments that he made, and (the reaction from Mora and Martz) is a little disappointing, especially coming from a couple of former coaches.

"Everyone that has been around him, his teammates, former coaches, they know what type of player he is, what type of person he is. He represents our organization well. We're glad he is on our football team, but at the same time we cannot be concerned about criticism coming from the outside.

"Right now it's easy to dog-pile us because we didn't play well. But how you get rid of things like that is to play well. That's why we're anxious to play Pittsburgh this week and go from there."

Smith said he has not spoken to Martz about his comments on Cutler.

"I'm trying to get ready for Pittsburgh," Smith said. "I'm talking to my wife, a little bit, right now. Everyone else is a little bit lower on my list."

Cutler said he wasn't surprised at how closely he has been scrutinized on and off the field since coming to the Bears.

"You expect it," he said, "and when you lose that stuff gets magnified even more. If we win that ballgame and I play a little bit better, it's going to be a lot better outcome. I'm sure some of the columns are going to be a little more positive. When you throw picks, you're going to get criticized, you're going to get picked apart a little bit, and that's as expected."