- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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“I love the way (their defense is) playing,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday morning as his team prepared for a preseason contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder. “They were great last year, they’re great this year. I don’t know much about football, but I enjoy watching them play.”
Discussion at practice turned to the nasty hit Cutler took from Lions’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the second quarter. It knocked Cutler out for one play and sent him to the locker room before halftime -- but he finished the game. Several Bulls were impressed by his toughness.
“I was happy he came back,” Taj Gibson said. “That’s what Chicago loves. A lot of quarterbacks tend to sit down. He came back after a tough hit and still played through all that pain. He’s a tough quarterback.”
Suh wasn’t penalized on the play nor fined on Tuesday for the hit. Gibson and others likened the quarterback’s vulnerability with the ball in the pocket to them driving the basket. It’s not easy to protect yourself.
“That was crazy,” Gibson stated. “I thought that was going to be a flag ... (Suh is) a beast. That was a rough play. I’m glad Cutler didn’t get hurt on that one.”
Thibodeau added: “Shoot, he’s a heck of a quarterback, I know that. Their team has a lot of toughness.”
Chicago native and Bears fan Nazr Mohammed concurred but was less critical of Suh.
“It’s a part of football,” he said. “It’s a tough position. You’re holding the ball and you’re in a vulnerable state most of the time.”
Thibodeau has never met head coach Lovie Smith but there’s little doubt the two have something in common: an obsession and commitment to team defense.
“You said the word, ‘Defense,'" Mohammed stated. “So he definitely appreciates that.”
Thibodeau was asked to compare his defense to the Bears.
“Shoot, we have a long way to go,” he declared.