Cutler 'felt supported' by teammates

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
8:30
PM ET
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler felt supported by teammates during his return to the lineup Sunday at Cleveland after a month out of action, despite suggestions to the contrary.

Cutler admitted that most of the support came from teammates on offense, and the quarterback said he wasn't aware about potential division in the locker room regarding the decision to start him over backup Josh McCown.

"Offensively, yeah, [I felt support from those players]," Cutler said Monday during the "Jay Cutler Show" on ESPN 1000. "I'm not in the defensive meetings. We don't talk to those guys as much. I felt support from those guys going into the game. I know there were some media outlets saying otherwise. It is what it is. At the end of the game, I felt supported, which is all that was really needed."

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
AP Photo/David Richard"At the end of the game, I felt supported, which is all that was really needed," Cutler said of his return.
Cutler shook off a slow start against the Browns in which he threw two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in the second quarter, and led the Bears to a 38-31 triumph, which keeps the club in the chase for the NFC North title. With Cutler leading the way, the offense converted 64 percent of third downs as the quarterback completed 22 passes for 265 yards, and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 102.2.

Prior to the game, multiple reports surfaced hinting at division in the team's locker room over the decision to reinsert Cutler as the starter over McCown. Filling in for four outings prior to Sunday's game at Cleveland, McCown had thrown for 1,271 yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception for a passer rating as 109.8, which ranked as third in the NFL. McCown also led the NFL with a Total QBR of 85.7.

According to one report, sources said players bit their tongues during the week leading up to Sunday's game out of respect for Bears coach Marc Trestman, but that some defensive players were likely to speak up if Cutler didn't perform well against the Browns. Cutler was aware of the situation, according to that report. But Cutler denied that.

"No, I wasn't aware of that. No one approached me and said, 'Hey, out of respect to you and [coach Trestman] we're not gonna say anything. We don't think you should play.' You never know," Cutler said. "Locker rooms are funny places. Guys get put in these situations. It might not have even come out that way. It might have just been they said something and that's how [it was perceived]. I'm not gonna make a big deal out of it at all. I felt that everyone supported me. I thought the guys went out there, and after we had a rough start, they bounced back for me and everyone was there on the sidelines saying, 'Hey, next play, let's keep moving on.' I felt supported, which is the only thing that really matters."

Prior to making his first start in a month, Cutler said he spoke to several players on the offensive side of the ball to let them know he would be returning to the lineup. Knowing how well McCown had performed in relief, Cutler wanted to know whether teammates would support his return.

"I've talked to [receiver Brandon Marshall] about it," Cutler said. "We've been together a long time. I knew he'd shoot me straight. I talked to [center Roberto Garza]. I mentioned some stuff to the linemen. Everyone was super supportive. Like, 'This is what we've been waiting for: you to get back. So let's go. Let's quit talking about it. Let's go out there and play.' So guys were great. I said it yesterday, it's a really, really cool group to work with. The bonds are forming and getting stronger and stronger each week."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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