- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Despite whatever criticism Cutler receives for comportment and -- most recently his toughness -- Smith said he has no problem with the way the quarterback has handled situations in the past and considers him an ideal representative of the team.
“Yes, yes, how could I not?” Smith asked. “For every question that you’re gonna ask me, I love Jay being our quarterback. I’ve got no problem with him. Can we ... we can all do things better. We work on that. But I’m not gonna tell Jay Cutler to change who he is. I don’t tell you to change your style. I’m not gonna do that. I like who Jay is. I’m so excited about him being our quarterback in years to come. I trust him. I know he’s a tough guy. Think about it: as a coach, you see a quarterback take the amount of sacks he took in that Giants game and he kept coming. He’s gonna lead us to a lot of wins.”
Because of the NFL lockout, Smith won’t be able to contact Cutler, and the coaching staff can’t work with the quarterback on any of his mechanical issues. For Smith, the criticism about the quarterback’s mechanics are overblown, and the staffs holds no trepidation about how Cutler will perform once the team can start working with him again.
Despite taking a career-high 52 sacks, Cutler became the first player in franchise history to throw for 3,000 yards (3,274) in back-to-back seasons in 2010, and also became the first to throw for 20 or more touchdowns in consecutive years.
“Gosh, man, these [questions about] fundamentals. Jay works on his fundamentals,” Smith said. “Jay Cutler is an outstanding quarterback that led us to 12 [wins]. The questions on Jay, I just don’t know. Everybody’s gonna be working on fundamentals. Jay doesn’t need to work on them any more than anybody else does.
"But that’s what you do in the offseason. Jay’s a competitor. When I’m worried about our football team, quarterback isn’t one of the positions that I’m spending a whole lot of time worrying about. I feel pretty good about the play we’re gonna get from that this year.”
Asked whether the criticism of Cutler’s fundamentals was overblown, Smith nodded.
“Yes,” Smith said. “Jay has the best quarterback tutor in the game working with him in [offensive coordinator] Mike Martz and [quarterbacks coach] Shane Day. So I feel pretty good about that.”
Smith also expressed that he’s not concerned with the firestorm of criticism that Cutler has endured affecting his psyche in the future.
“Not at all. I don’t think any player should have to go through that,” Smith said, “because it wasn’t warranted at all.”
Smith spoke to Cutler prior to his trip to Kenya earlier this month with One Kid One World, a non-profit group that focuses on charitable efforts such as rebuilding schools and providing supplies for students.
Cutler’s charitable contributions aren’t widely publicized, but Smith considered the trip as nothing out of the ordinary for his quarterback.
“What do I think about it? That’s what he normally does, what most of our guys do,” Smith said. “They’re out in the community. That’s Jay Cutler, what he normally does.”