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Bears' Martz can't fathom Cutler criticism, says QB will be 'elite'

Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz has a message for Jay Cutler's critics: Get over it.

"I don't know why people want to dogpile this guy," Martz told the *Chicago Tribune*. "I don't get it. He's a tough guy. He wants to do everything right."

Cutler came in for a firestorm of criticism after pulling himself out of the Bears' loss in the NFC Championship Game to the Green Bay Packers after sustaining a second-degree sprain in his left knee. Continued swipes at his toughness spurred Bears head coach Lovie Smith to defend his quarterback while speaking to media on the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

"There's no question about Jay's toughness or anything like that," Smith said Friday. "For guys to even challenge that, or question that, (they) don't know what they're talking about, don't know him. He's as tough as any quarterback in the league."

Martz agrees and says he can't understand why the critics continue to attack Cutler, who wasn't sharp in the 21-14 loss to the Packers on Jan. 23.

"That last game, he didn't play as well as he can," Martz told the Tribune. "That happens. Why does Brett Favre throw five interceptions in a playoff game? It happens. We're all going to have to learn to let it go. He's a young player learning how to play. And he had never been in that environment before in his career, and he'll deal with it right next time."

Martz added: "He's going to be in the very elite of this league. He's on his way. He'll be fine."

Cutler hasn't begun post-injury workouts because, according to Martz, "the knee is not even close yet." 

Martz said: "We just have to make sure that thing is really healed before we start doing anything," and that he will work with Cutler on mechanics when he is ready to go. They focused on mechanics after Cutler arrived in a trade last April from the Denver Broncos, spending six weeks last offseason working on drop-backs.

"He comes from kind of a gunslinger, undisciplined kind of a mode in college (at Vanderbilt)," Martz told the newspaper. "And then they used him a lot out on the edge in Denver. So what we do with the time throws, it's a little new to him. All those guys I've had in the past, their footwork should all pretty much look the same. They're all consistent. And Jay does a great job with it. There are times in game, though, that he doesn't. (But) eventually will break his bad habits."

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