- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Whether it's walking away from the offensive coordinator or bumping into a teammate, when Jay Cutler plays in prime time, his every move falls under national scrutiny, but that won't stop the quarterback from playing "my brand of football."
Growing increasingly frustrated with requests for responses to seemingly every criticism levied his way, Cutler made it clear Thursday that no matter what is said, he'll continue to compete his way.
"Everyone's got an opinion; that's the world we live in," Cutler said. "That's why you guys are all in this room. That's why you guys get paid to do your job: to have opinions. At the end of the day, they are opinions. They're not facts."
Cutler is correct, and his reluctance to address every remark concerning him leads only to speculation and even more criticism. Wanting to focus on Monday night's matchup with the Detroit Lions (2-3), Cutler admitted all the criticisms concerning him are too much to individually address.
Should he try, the distractions would take focus away from the end game: winning.
"Some (opinions) are personal, some aren't," Cutler said. "I can't internally process each and every one of them. I've got to worry about trying to win games on Sunday and the guys in the locker room."
Peppered with questions about remarks from national critics as he preps for his third prime-time game of the season, Cutler refused to respond to recent remarks made by former NFL quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Phil Simms.
Prior to the Oct. 7 game at Jacksonville, Bradshaw fired pointed criticism at Cutler for how he reacted in walking away from offensive coordinator Mike Tice during Chicago's Oct. 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
On CBS' "NFL Sunday," Bradshaw said, "I know I would never act like that. I would show respect to the head coach and offensive coordinator. I would never do, Jay, what you did to Mike Tice; no matter if he was in your ear the whole time screaming and hollering. You know, you've got millions of people watching. If I were you, I would learn to be a little bit nicer. I know you don't care, and nor do I care if I ever sit down and do an interview with you, which I have yet to do. Maybe there's a reason for that. I like everybody. I'd like to like you, but right now I don't like you. Grow up young man."
Simms, meanwhile, was actually complimentary of Cutler with his remarks. Asked about his preference between Cutler and Detroit's Matthew Stafford, Simms chose the Chicago quarterback during the "NFL Monday QB" show on CBS Sports.
"I'm going to take Jay Cutler because the guy has a big arm," Simms said. "I like the fact that he is athletic and can move around, and he is not afraid to take chances. He does not have the benefit of playing in one of those pass-heavy offenses where you can put up all of these really fancy numbers, which are not that real. But his (numbers) are real. And let's come down to this too, and I mean this as a compliment. He's mean. He's an angry guy, and I think angry is a big part of being a quarterback in the NFL."
Cutler agreed with Simms' assessment. But when told Simms called him "mean," Cutler quickly fired "he said more than that. You guys take things out of context; that's the problem."
"I think you have to have a certain edge out there as quarterback," Cutler added. "I'm not gonna take that away from what he said."
Asked to respond to Bradshaw's remarks, Cutler countered, "I'm not gonna get into this; it's not gonna happen. So anything else about Detroit? No? Alright."
While it's widely speculated Cutler is either mean, unhappy or has a tenuous relationship with Tice, one source within the organization said the quarterback and offensive coordinator are much closer than what people think.
Running back Matt Forte expressed disgust just Wednesday when asked whether Cutler is happy.
"Another question about Jay and his not being happy?" Forte asked. "You guys just see him out playing football. We see him behind the scenes. Perception to you guys is reality. Jay is who he is. During the game he's going to make faces. He's not going to be happy the entire game. I'm not happy the whole game. It just gets analyzed too much."
Perhaps Forte is correct, given that numerous transgressions occur all over the league on a weekly basis without the seemingly endless coverage Cutler's actions receive.
Receiver Brandon Marshall looks forward to the day when every move Cutler makes isn't the subject of national debate and repeated questions locally. Having worked three seasons with Cutler in Denver before reuniting with him in March, Marshall admitted the quarterback is "an easy target because he plays with his emotions on his sleeves" while adding his teammate is "misunderstood."
"I'm tired of talking about Jay, honestly. I can't wait to see when it's all said and done the legacy he leaves behind and how the stories are going to be written differently," Marshall said. "We have a long way to go. When it's all said and done, short term, I'm going to sit back and that's when I'm going to pick up the papers and watch the news and see how they're talking about Jay Cutler and the Bears."
Jay Cutler says he won't change "his brand of football" for prime time.