Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall hasn't been there for all 99 of Jay Cutler's games, but he was there for No. 1 with the Denver Broncos and he'll be there for No. 100 on Sunday in Washington. So Marshall is uniquely qualified to speak on the growth he has seen in his quarterback -- and friend.
While Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who coached Cutler and Marshall in Denver, believes Cutler has regained the Pro Bowl form he showed in Denver, Marshall has a different take.
"I think (Cutler is) better," Marshall said. "I think it’s more from a mental aspect. He’s locked in.
"Jay’s doing an amazing job of not only doing the things he needs to do, but he’s getting everyone lined up. He’s walking us through routes, showing us how he would like it. The trickle-down effect has been good from his leadership."
Leadership hasn't been a quality always associated with Cutler, but a reputation as a sometimes salty, aloof and pouting individual seems to be fading away.
“I have to be honest, sometimes I try to downplay it to have his back but this year it’s like night and day," Marshall recently told the NFL Network. "He’s unbelievable. He’s leading the way.
“I don’t know. Sometimes it clicks for guys and this guy, he’s unbelievable. I’m lost for words when I talk about him.”
Marshall caught Cutler's second touchdown pass, a 71-yarder against Seattle in 2006. The two were reunited last season in hopes of bringing the Bears the same type of offensive pop, and it worked as Marshall caught 118 passes for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Some credit the arrival of new coach Marc Trestman for Cutler's leadership growth this season, but Marshall isn't sure.
“Honestly, it’s more a credit to Jay," Marshall told the NFL Network. "Jay is a guy that is well-read; he’s always reading on how to be a better husband, how to be a better man. He’s always searching for answers; how to be a better father. He understands that he’s not supposed to stay the same, so I think there is some credit to coach Trestman but Jay is probably the smartest man in any room.”