Mike Shanahan still fan of Jay Cutler

Updated: October 20, 2010, 3:40 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Mike Shanahan remains a fan of Jay Cutler, even though the Washington Redskins coach will be patrolling the visitors' sideline Sunday at Soldier Field.

"Being around him for a couple of years, I really enjoyed his leadership, his growth in the system we were running," said Shanahan, who coached Cutler with the Denver Broncos from 2006-08. "He did a great job my last year there [in Denver]. He went to the Pro Bowl. He did a good job leading our offense. We were a young offensive football team, I think we finished second in the NFL in total offense. Being a young team, I thought he did an exceptional job leading our football team.

"He did a great job getting rid of the ball. I think he set the record that year for the fewest sacks -- one out of every 56 passes. I think he had 11 [overall] in 616 throws. He did a lot of things you would hope a quarterback would do, one of the reasons why he made the Pro Bowl."

But times have changed for Cutler from a pass protection standpoint. After being sacked 35 times his first year in Chicago, the Bears quarterback has already been sacked 23 times this season, and was forced to miss one game because of a concussion.

Despite reports of Cutler's past concussions while at Vanderbilt, Shanahan denied being concerned about any head trauma issues surrounding Cutler when Denver selected the quarterback No. 11 overall in the 2006 NFL draft,

"None at all, to be honest with you," Shanahan said. "He's such a tough guy he doesn't even let you know when he has a concussion or unless it's to an extreme. That's never been a concern of mine."

One thing that cannot be disputed is the lack of stability has helped cause Cutler's production to dip sharply after leaving Shanahan two seasons ago.

"I'm just starting to study that right now," Shanahan said of Cutler's struggles. "I've been going through it the last couple of days. But I can guarantee you one thing, Jay Cutler is an excellent quarterback."

After beginning his rookie season as a backup in 2006, Cutler started the final five games, then the next two seasons before being dealt to Chicago. Cutler passed for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns his final season in Denver.

"Anytime you can go to an organization like that with a coach and offensive leader like Mike Shanahan with the way he's been successful in the past in developing quarterbacks, it was a lot of fun," Cutler said. "It was a lot of fun my first year there, and then the next two."

Cutler drew a comparison between Shanahan and current Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

"They are going to attack defenses and make sure every play has an answer," Cutler said. "They are going to rely on their ability as schemes, as play-callers to beat the defense. They are going to make sure the quarterback just isn't out there holding the ball looking or things, and make sure things happen in timely matter. Both are great guys."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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