Jay Cutler concedes feeling pressure

Updated: December 19, 2013, 6:08 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPN.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler acknowledged feeling pressure during his first start in more than a month Sunday thanks to the debate raging over whether he or Josh McCown should be the team's starter.

After bouncing back from a slow start and throwing three touchdown passes in a 38-31 win over the Cleveland Browns, Cutler said Thursday he feels "kind of at ease" going into Sunday's matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, with the Bears (8-6) now solely in control of their postseason fate.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Jay Cutler says he felt pressure in his return as the Bears' starter Sunday because of the debate over whether backup Josh McCown should retain the job.

"I mean, I think it would be foolish just to lie and say we weren't aware of [the debates outside the building]," Cutler said. "That's unreasonable. Everyone's human in this building.

"Another reason to acknowledge it is [because] the guys did such a great job of handling it. Another reason you want to acknowledge it is we were able to hear it, deal with it in our own certain way and move on and get the job done on Sunday."

Still, Cutler conceded, "last week was a tough week with everything surrounding it."

"If we did lose that game, having to walk into the media room, and deal with you guys if we did lose -- all those things weigh on you," he said.

Apparently, Cutler didn't show outwardly what was weighing on him.

"There was a lot of noise around the decision that was made," coach Marc Trestman said. "But it wasn't reflected in his practices or his demeanor in meetings."

Trestman said the manner in which Cutler handled the week of preparation leading up to the game, in addition to how he dealt with throwing two first-half interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), only provided further confirmation for how he felt about the quarterback.

The performance also offers optimism for how Cutler might deal with adversity in the last two regular-season games, starting with Sunday night's matchup in Philadelphia.

Although the lead-up to the game made for "a tougher week" in terms of X's and O's, Cutler said he "feel[s] pretty good" regarding his standing with teammates.

"I don't think the locker room has felt different, in my mind, since Week 1," he said. "Even when I was down and Josh was up, I just think from the coaching staff down, [it was] really an even-keel locker room, even-keel coaches. When things are going good or when things are going bad, it's work first. 'Let's get the job done. Let's find a way for each and every week.'"

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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