|09-06-2007, 04:16 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Cutler clearly in control with Broncos approaching opener
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer
Suddenly, during Wednesday's walk-through practice, Jay Cutler halted the play.
A receiver made a slight mistake. Cutler recognized it and corrected it.
"That's his duty," tight end Stephen Alexander said of Cutler, who will make the sixth start of his NFL career Sunday when the Broncos open the season at Buffalo. "We're a veteran team. We don't need the coaches to tell us when we're out of place. We'll do it. As the quarterback, it's part of Jay's job. For him to notice it right away and call it out shows that this is his team. That stuff is good to see."
It was a nice confidence booster before the season starts. The kid quarterback is no kid anymore.
Cutler has flown under the radar in recent weeks because of all the worry about the Broncos defense in the preseason and buzz over the signing of veteran pass rusher Simeon Rice. But if the Broncos, who spent nearly the entire past eight months gearing up for a return to the postseason, are going to have a chance to win the Super Bowl, it will be up to Cutler. The Broncos believe he is a franchise quarterback, which explains why they traded up to take the former Vanderbilt star with the 11th pick in the 2006 draft.
As a rookie, Cutler started the final five games of the 2006 season, which the Broncos ended 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Jake Plummer started the team's first 11 games at quarterback before coach Mike Shanahan pulled him and promoted Cutler. Even though the Broncos went 2-3 in Cutler's starts, there were flashes that showed why they drafted him. Cutler became the first NFL rookie to throw multiple touchdown passes in each of the first four games he played.
Cutler passed for 1,001 yards and nine touchdowns in five games but also threw five interceptions.
He said he felt like he was given a pass last year. He knows his rookie mulligan is over. And he knows he is expected to lead the Broncos back to the playoffs.
"I've had a lot of time to get into the offense and figure stuff out," Cutler said. "People are going to expect a lot more out of me. Last year it was just, 'He's a rookie and will make mistakes.' This year, they are going to expect me to go out there and execute."
Mike Heimerdinger, the Broncos' assistant head coach in charge of offense, said Cutler appears comfortable in the offense and attributes that to Cutler getting thousands of repetitions since offseason workouts started in the spring.
"Jay has an understanding of what is going on," Heimerdinger said. "Last year, it was more of a case of memorization because everything was so new to him."
Shanahan said Cutler has total confidence and the 24-year-old knows the game plan inside and out.
"I feel more confident in what I'm doing and have a better command of the offense and understand what we're trying to get done offensively on the field," Cutler said.
It seems Cutler has gotten his teammates in his corner.
"The quarterback is getting better every day," running back Travis Henry said. "We see it every day. He's the leader out there."