Broncos Accept Cutler's Role

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan has no doubts about Jay Cutler's abilities behind center and even accepts the rookie's 'gunslinger mentality' when it comes to winning football games.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has given the Denver Broncos a lot of hope for the future, even if he makes them nervous at times in the present.

Cutler has a gunslinger's mentality. The Broncos knew the strong-armed Cutler would have some turbulent moments, and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has been patient.

In fact, Shanahan has given Cutler a pass for most of his interceptions this season. He likes the fact that the second-year quarterback wants to make something happen and is willing to live with his gambling nature in exchange for some big plays.

"He's fearless," Shanahan said.

One of Cutler's most impressive traits is his ability to bounce back from an interception or a mistake. He showed that in the Broncos' first game at Buffalo, when he forced a lateral to Selvin Young that went past the running back. The mistake set up a third down and 23 with less than two minutes remaining.

Undaunted, Cutler drove the team down the field for a game-winning field goal.

Against Pittsburgh, Cutler again showed his cool. He had thrown two interceptions in the game and the Broncos' offense had been stagnant most of the second half. But after Pittsburgh cut a 14-point deficit to tie the game late, Cutler calmly led another game-winning drive in the final 1:10.

When asked after that game about his interceptions, Cutler didn't seem to be too worried about it.

"They caught me. It happens," Cutler said. "We're trying to eliminate it as much as we can, but I'm going to throw some."

Cutler's big arm and playmaking ability has drawn some comparisons to Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre. Cutler and Favre faced each other for the first time on Monday night.

James "Bus" Cook is the agent for both quarterbacks, and thinks the two are a lot alike.

"The mannerisms, the personality," Cook said. "There are a lot of similarities."

Cutler said he has always watched and respected Favre, so it's probably not a coincidence that the playing styles are similar. But Cutler didn't proclaim himself the next Favre.

"We both have strong arms and both try to fit it in some tight spots," Cutler said. "He's been very successful. I'm a long way from getting to his status."

The Broncos need Cutler to make plays and eliminate some of the mistakes as the season goes on. That should happen, because Cutler has proven to be a quick study. He shows a good deal of poise for a player who hadn't taken an NFL snap before Denver's 12th game last season. Cutler took over in the middle of a playoff race when Jake Plummer was benched and responded with some good games.

Cutler also hasn't rested despite a good showing to start his career. Even though he isn't rattled by his mistakes, he always professes the desire to improve.

"Obviously you can always do better," Cutler said.

PLAYER NOTES
--DE Simeon Rice could help the Broncos in the second half of the season, once he's healthy. Rice hasn't lost any of his confidence and if his shoulder is right he should be an effective pass rusher.

--S John Lynch is still one of the Broncos' most steady players. Lynch works hard in the offseason to stay in shape, which keeps him on top of his game.

--LB D.J. Williams appears to be making strides at middle linebacker. He had never played in the middle before this season but is a gifted athlete and will continue to improve.

--WR Javon Walker could return to help the Broncos at some point this season. But the Broncos have to be careful with his rehabilitation to make sure he doesn't set himself back beyond this year. Walker had knee surgery a couple weeks ago and could miss up to another month.

--TE Daniel Graham hasn't been a big part of the passing game but has justified his big free agent contract in the running game. Graham is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL and will continue to help Denver's backs pick up yards.



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