|08-16-2006, 04:41 PM||#1|
It is what it Is.
Join Date: Apr 2001
Buy My Book
Good Cutler article
Cutler goes on a Broncos ride
Debut with Denver results in 192 yards for ex-Commodore
By JIM WYATT
Jay Cutler is still keeping up with his friends at Vanderbilt, and if his schedule allows, he plans to be on the sideline when the Commodores open their season at Michigan.
Now with the Denver Broncos, he's still getting some mileage out of his last college game, too — a 28-24 victory over Tennessee in Knoxville. Linebacker Al Wilson is just one of the former Vols who steers clear of the rookie quarterback in the locker room these days.
"I've said a few things,'' Cutler said on Tuesday. "They don't want to hear it, though.''
A part of Cutler is still holding on to his football past. But in the past few months, plenty has changed for the former Vanderbilt star and Denver's quarterback of the future.
He not only jumped several tax brackets when he signed a contract that could be worth as much as $48 million, but he landed atop a mountain of lofty expectations in Denver, where he's already drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer John Elway.
"Denver, it's a football town and they love football. Elway set a very high bar here as far as quarterbacks go,'' said Cutler, the 11th overall pick of the draft. "Obviously the stakes are a little bit higher at this level and the expectations are a lot higher. But I am just doing my best and trying to get better every day.''
He's doing it with the same laid-back style he displayed at Vanderbilt, still wearing No. 6. Heck, Cutler hasn't even bought himself a shiny new car. He's still driving a demo.
"I am still the same, nothing has changed,'' Cutler said. "I bought a house, that's about it. I still have my family and my close friends, and I am still the same guy, just in the NFL.''
After a sparkling debut against Detroit, Cutler's second preseason game is Saturday night against the Titans, a team he watched while at Vanderbilt and a team he watched pass him by in the NFL Draft.
Cutler said he thinks he landed in the best spot for him. The Titans, meanwhile, believe they got the best guy for them in former Texas quarterback Vince Young, the No. 3 overall pick.
Titans Coach Jeff Fisher, who coached Cutler at the Senior Bowl and evaluated him before the draft, believes the ex-Commodore has a big future. He told Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan as much the night before the draft.
"(I like) his mobility and his instincts and his ability to throw the ball in a tight spot against really good competition, under pressure,'' Fisher said. "He made a lot of things happen and has a very, very strong-willed personality. He's confident, calm, poised.''
The Broncos traded up to draft Cutler, and they haven't been disappointed.
He moved to second-string behind starter Jake Plummer early in training camp, and in his preseason debut last Friday, he completed 16 of 22 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown.
The 192 passing yards are the most by a Bronco in a preseason opener since 1975 as well as the most by a quarterback making his NFL preseason debut under Shanahan.
It's also the most passing yards in an preseason debut among all quarterbacks taken in the first round since 2000. It also topped the preseason debuts of Peyton Manning (No. 1 overall pick in 1998) and Tom Brady (sixth-rounder in 2000).
"I thought that both teams were vanilla in their approach, so you don't want to get too excited,'' Shanahan said of his debut. "But a guy has to go out there and perform. I thought he showed a lot of poise and did an excellent job.''
On talk radio in Denver, some fans are already calling for Cutler over Plummer. The Elway comparisons were also kicked up a notch.
"He did well,'' veteran Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith said. "I am not going to blow it out of proportion like you guys do. I am sure you all think he is John Elway or something. John Elway didn't start off great. He had some rough times, and Jay is going to have some rough times. He is going to get better and that is what you want, but he is also going to have some rough times just like the rest of us.''
Even though he spent time with Cutler at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Young says he didn't know much about him until seeing his highlights after the draft. From what he's seen, Young likes Cutler's strong arm, mobility and decision-making.
"He's a great talent,'' Young said. "I hope he does well.''
Although Cutler was the last of the three quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2006 draft — behind Young and behind Southern Cal's Matt Leinart, who went to the Arizona Cardinals — he said nothing matters now.
That is all in the past. He's a Bronco.
"Those guys can have better stats. They can go to the Pro Bowl and do all that. But if we are winning games here at Denver and winning Super Bowls, I'll be fine with that,'' Cutler said. "I think I got the best deal of us three. They obviously got paid a little more but I am in a better situation here in Denver, with a great coaching staff, great teammates, a winning organization.'' •
|08-16-2006, 04:46 PM||#2|
It is what it Is.
Join Date: Apr 2001
Buy My Book
Cutler lives the mile high life in Denver
By Terry McCormick, email@example.com
August 16, 2006
Former Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler says he has been quite busy learning his way around the Denver Broncos.
Too busy in fact to pay much attention to the other two heralded quarterbacks in his draft class — Vince Young and Matt Leinart.
Cutler, Young and Leinart were the subject of much scrutiny and even more debate among NFL personnel people, the media and fans debating the merits and faults of each entering last April’s draft.
As it turned out, Young landed in Cutler’s collegiate home in Nashville with the Tennessee Titans as the third pick. Leinart fell to 10th with Arizona, and the Broncos traded up to select the Commodore star one pick later.
For that reason, all three will be forever linked to each other, whether they like it or not.
Cutler, who completed 16 of 22 passes for 192 yards last week against Detroit in his pro debut, says he is too caught up in his own situation to pay attention to Young’s 4-for-11 debut against New Orleans or to note that Leinart is finally in Cardinals camp after signing a $50.8 million contract.
“I’ve got enough things to worry about out here,” Cutler said. “I see that Matt finally decided to sign. So congratulations to him. And I’ll get to see Vince this weekend. I’m out here. I’m busy, trying to learn my own offense.”
Still, he acknowledges the comparisons are inevitable, just as they were in 1983 when John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly became Hall of Famers, while Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Todd Blackledge flamed out prematurely.
Or like 1999, when Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper blossomed, while Tim Couch, Akili Smith and Cade McNown went bust.
“I think we all are [linked],” Cutler said. “You want to be the best at your position, but it’s also a team game. Those guys can have better stats. They can go to the Pro Bowl and all that. If we’re winning games here at Denver and winning Super Bowls, I’ll be fine with that.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he believes all three from the Class of 2006 will be productive pros.
“All three of the quarterbacks in this draft are all going to play, and are all going to be very, very good,” Fisher said. “In the past, the hit-miss ratio has been about two out of three. That’s 66 percent. This is going to be an exception to that. All three of these guys are going to be very good.”
By landing in Denver, whatever Cutler accomplishes will likely always be measured against the greatest player in Broncos history — Elway, who led the team to five Super Bowl appearances and two championships in 16 seasons.
That might be a more difficult shadow to escape than the ones projected by Young and Leinart. But Cutler welcomes the opportunity to carve out his own niche in the Rockies.
“Denver is a football town,” Cutler said. “They love football, and Elway set a very high bar here as far as quarterbacks go. … Obviously, the stakes are a little bit higher at this level, and the expectations are a lot higher, especially when you’re trying to live up to John Elway. … John Elway was great. I’m not going to try to be him. I’m going to try to be my own player, and hopefully, have some success like he did.”
That Cutler landed in Denver, which traded up with St. Louis to take him, is an advantage in one way. While Young and Leinart will be expected to steer rebuilding franchises back to respectability, Cutler appears poised to someday inherit a ready-made Super Bowl contender in the Broncos.
“I think I got the best deal out of us three,” Cutler said. “They got paid a little bit more, but I think I’m in a better situation here in Denver. I have a great coaching staff, great teammates and a winning organization.”
Cutler can actually thank Fisher in part for that. With Fisher having coached Cutler in the Senior Bowl and the Titans having worked him out personally, the Tennessee coach received a call from his buddy Mike Shanahan just before the draft. With the Titans steering toward Young, Shanahan asked if Fisher would mind giving him some inside knowledge about Cutler. Fisher obliged, and the Broncos tabbed Cutler as their quarterback of the future.
“Coach Fisher, we had him at the Senior Bowl,” Cutler said. “He was great, and I think I did well, and I think he liked what he saw. And I’m happy he passed the word on to Coach Shanahan.”