NFL Nation: Jay Cutler Show

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman offered no definitive statement on the future of embattled defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, but Trestman praised the way Tucker handled the injury-riddled defense on multiple occasions during Thursday’s 90-minute joint news conference with team general manager Phil Emery.

However, Trestman said a direct conversation between himself and Tucker still needs to take place before he can comment on the status of his coaching staff.

“I don’t want anybody to read into anything what we are doing,” Trestman said. “Everything is on the table. We’re going through a very thoughtful and methodical process here. Other than that, we’ve talked enough at these press conferences that I’m hopeful you won’t [draw conclusions on the staff]. We’re going to look at everything because we have an obligation to do that and what I can do to get this football team better.

"Everything is on the table. Again, we’re just three days into this. All we’ve done is looked at some tape. This is a process that’s going to involve not just myself, but all of our coaches. It’ll be a process where we’ve left everything on the table.”

The Bears finished 2013 ranked No. 30 in total defense and dead last in rushing defense and yards allowed per play. The defense was also tied for 30th in points allowed and ranked 26th in sacks per pass play.

But the group did suffer key injuries to cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs, defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins, middle linebacker D.J. Williams, nickel back Kelvin Hayden and defensive lineman Turk McBride. Veteran defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis also opted to retire on the eve of training camp, further depleting the Bears’ depth on the defensive line.

When relatively healthy, the Bears' defense put up respectable numbers over the first three games of the regular season, but their performance sharply regressed as the year wore on.

“I think it’s a real shame that Mel got the raw end of the deal,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show” on Monday that he believes Tucker will be the team’s defensive coordinator until “he lands a head coaching job” either in the NFL or college ranks.

Trestman said he and Emery work together when shaping the coaching staff, but Emery clarified that Trestman has final say on the matter.
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."
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler acknowledged on Monday that he has changed for the better, and credited the new coaching staff headed up by Marc Trestman, in addition to teammates on the offensive line and at the "skill" positions.

Often described as petulant, Cutler hasn’t displayed the quality so far this season the way he did in years past.

“I think everyone changes over a period of time,” Cutler said during “The Jay Cutler Show” on ESPN 1000. “People change for the better, some for the worst. It just depends.”

Having moved on to a new staff led by an offensive-minded head coach, Cutler receives the best pass protection he has had as a Bears QB, and he is surrounded by multiple weapons on his side of the ball, which is a change from Lovie Smith, who preferred to bolster the defense.

In the 2013 regular season, Cutler has connected on 143 of 217 passing attempts, or 65.9 percent, and is on pace for a career high and highest for a season in franchise history. He has completed at least 60 percent of his passes in five of six games, and has thrown for 300 or more yards in two games.

With nine 300-yard passing games as a Bear, Cutler is tied with Billy Wade for the most in franchise history.

“I like the situation I’m in right now with the coaches. Marc Trestman, [Matt Cavanaugh], [Aaron Kromer], all those guys are doing a great job of getting this team offensively where we need to be. Offensive line, I can’t say enough about them. I think they’re the biggest byproduct of where we are offensively,” Cutler said. “We brought in Martellus Bennett, some other guys around us. We’ve got (Brandon Marshall), Alshon [Jeffery], Earl [Bennett], Matt Forte, [Michael] Bush, all those guys are playing well.”

In the final year of a contract that pays $8.47 million this season, Cutler also cited an enjoyable life off the field for the change he has experienced. Cutler and reality television star Kristin Cavallari married in June, and, the summer before that, Cavallari gave birth to the couple’s son, Camden.

“At home, life is good. Kristin’s actually here tonight with me. We’re gonna have a little date night, go downtown stuff, go to dinner. So that’s great,” Cutler said. “Cam is doing great. I’m in a good place right now. It makes it a lot easier when you have good guys to work around you. It makes my life easier.”