Cutler criticizes Hester after interception
Still, he made a point to smooth things over with wide receiver Devin Hester.
Cutler got off to a rocky start with his new team in the preseason opener, completing only half his 10 passes in a 27-20 loss to Buffalo while throwing more interceptions (one) than touchdowns (zero). He also offended Hester with comments that some interpreted as a swipe at his receiver.
Cutler insisted he didn't mean to offend anyone and there are no problems between the two.
"I didn't read it," Cutler said. "I talked to Devin as soon as I was notified about it. He's fine. I'm fine. People took it out of context. He's our No. 1 receiver. He's done a heck of a job on the field and in the classroom."
Along with his rifle arm, Cutler brought soaring expectations to Chicago after the blockbuster deal with Denver in the offseason. Clearly, he's not quite on target with his receivers, but he has time.
The season doesn't start until Sept. 13 and there is another rehearsal coming up Saturday, when the New York Giants visit Soldier Field. Cutler hopes to do better after a shaky performance against the Bills. He was 5 of 10 for 64 yards with an interception on a poorly underthrown pass up the left sideline that Leodis McKelvin picked off and Hester didn't break up.
Cutler told reporters after the game: "Devin is more of a go-get-it guy; he is not really a back shoulder or jump-up-and-get-it [guy]. You learn from it. We made some mistakes. It's the first preseason game. Luckily enough, we have some time to correct them and keep going."
Many took that as a shot at Hester. The receiver even admitted this week that he was offended until Cutler told him he meant no offense, that he was simply trying to point out that Hester is not tall or known for his leaping ability.
"He's a go down the field and get the ball [receiver]," Cutler said. "I threw a bad ball, didn't give him a chance. I've got to throw it down there and let him run under it. It was a bad throw on my part."
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said this week that Cutler should have gone to a shorter receiver route when he had to slide up in the pocket on the play rather than put the ball up for grabs, but in Denver, former coach Mike Shanahan encouraged him to look downfield. He often praised Cutler for going deep, even throwing into coverage, rather than simply dumping off the ball. He believed that approach would make Cutler great, and the Bears certainly don't want to shackle him, either.
Cutler might have to strike more of a balance, though, particularly with a solid running back in Matt Forte in the backfield. Turner also said he likes Cutler's competitiveness but he might have to tone down his criticism of teammates.
In Denver, Cutler threw to one of the best sets of receivers led by Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. In Chicago, he has two solid pass-catching tight ends in Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark along with Forte out of the backfield, but the wide receivers are a big question mark.
"We're still kind of working on ourselves," Cutler said. "We've still got to go out there and do what we've been coached to do. I think we pressed a little bit offensively in the first game. We just need to relax a little bit."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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