All eyes have been on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler since his meltdown last week against the Green Bay Packers. He's taken heat from current and former players and coaches, from the media and even from the agents of opposing players.
Yet don't count St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher as another Cutler basher.
"First off, I watched Jay in college. We spent a lot of time with Jay prior to the draft," said Fisher. "I've gotten to know Jay over the years. Jay was close with Mike Heimerdinger. So I know Jay.
"I think Chicago is lucky to have Jay. Jay is a very, very talented quarterback. The Green Bay Packers have a very, very talented defense. So that happens sometimes at that position. That's not the first quarterback the Packers have given a hard day to. I don't think anybody needs to worry about anything. It's very early in the season. You can bounce back from these kinds of things very easily."
Fishers' Rams will sqaure off against Cutler and the Bears this Sunday for the 89th time in league history. Chicago holds a 51-34-3 advantage in the all-time series between the two franchises.
St. Louis faces a Bears offense that collapsed last Thursday against the Packers. Much of that was due to mental errors by Cutler, although Fisher doesn't foresee a repeat performance.
"He's very competitive. He's smart and he hates losing," Fisher said. "Gosh, I mean, he's just a really talented player. I'm always pulling for him. I'm probably not going to pull for him this weekend. But I'm always pulling for Jay. I think Jay's very talented. He's Jay Cutler. He's a good football player."
Fisher, unlike seemingly everyone else, isn't worried about Cutler's exchange with J'Marcus Webb on the sidelines last week, which involved both verbal and physical abuse.
"Who's saying this?" Fisher asked. "A guy has an opportunity as a quarterback in the huddle or on the sideline to voice his opinion. It's not the first quarterback to do that. All quarterbacks ... a quarterback that's got a chance to lead a football team and win games has to take that position.
"So I think you guys (Chicago media), or whoever's generating this stuff, ought to back off and let him play."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.