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Know the enemy: Saints on Jay Cutler

CHICAGO -- Criticism of Jay Cutler caused a firestorm around the Chicago Bears this week, but only because it came from his offensive coordinator as an anonymous source to the NFL Network.

Criticism of Cutler, in general, is nothing new. The big-armed quarterback has been one of the most risk-reward players in the NFL throughout his nine-year career spent with the Bears and Denver Broncos.

This year is certainly no different. Cutler has the best passer rating of his career (91.7) with by far his highest completion percentage (66.8). He’s on pace for 4,241 yards and a career-high 32 touchdown passes.

However, Cutler also leads the NFL with 21 turnovers (15 interceptions, six fumbles) for a crumbling Bears team that is 5-8.

Cutler seems to have the respect of the Saints' defense. The Saints (5-8) know he will provide them opportunities for sacks and turnovers. But they spoke highly of him this week as a guy who will make them pay if they don’t put him in uncomfortable situations.

Here’s what they had to say:

S Kenny Vaccaro: “I think he’s a good quarterback, honestly. He’s great against the blitz, he has an extremely strong arm. I found that out last year when I was caught on my tippy-toes in Cover 2. … [Alshon] Jeffery ran a double move, and [Cutler] kind of eluded the pressure, which he usually doesn’t run around much. And he just threw it, 60 yards in the air, back shoulder, perfect ball. It was kind of my welcome-to-the-league moment. ...

He’s had his struggles, but at the same time, so have we. So I can’t really comment on it.”

DC Rob Ryan: “I think he’s been the same quarterback. Look, I’ve faced him with a lot of different decals. I’ve faced this guy in a lot of different places. The bottom line is he’s got a huge arm. He’s a smart guy. He throws the ball well. He knows right where he’s throwing the football. Has he had some bad bounces? Yeah. Hell, I think all of us have. When the ball bounces off a receiver’s hand and gets picked off. ... He’s tough enough to take the heat.”

ILB Curtis Lofton: “He has one of the strongest arms in the league. So he can make any throw from going either direction. So it makes you stay disciplined, whether you’re [covering] the back or you’re going vertical down the field.”

CB Keenan Lewis: “I think he’s a phenomenal quarterback. Been watching him for years, big fan. ... That’s a guy who sticks to his game plan. He’s very confident, he’s competed a lot.”

OLB Junior Galette on Cutler’s style offering an opportunity for sacks: “Yeah, but he’s thrown it pretty quick this year. And he can run better than people expect him. If it’s third-and-7, he can definitely just take off and get a first down. He’s more athletic than people realize – just like [Cincinnati’s] Andy Dalton was. Obviously he can make all throws, a phenomenal arm. We’ve just gotta make him uncomfortable. But in order to that, we’ve gotta stop the run. We don’t stop the run, we don’t get no chances.”