Are you looking forward to facing the Titans after living and playing college football in Nashville?
Cutler: “It’s going to be fun. Obviously being there for four or five years, I watched a lot of the Titans. I got to know Vince (Young) a little bit through the draft. It’s another game that we need to win. ”
In the 2006 NFL Draft did you think there was a chance the Titans might draft you?
Cutler: “I wasn’t too confident in them picking me. Just getting a feel going down there, I knew they liked me. But I knew if they were going to get a chance at Vince, then they were going to take him. ”
Did you hope that the Titans might draft you?
Cutler: “Yeah, I wouldn’t have minded staying there. It would have been fun. Just playing college ball there, I had a lot of friends and had a lot of fans. I got to know the Titans coaches a little bit and liked them. But it didn’t work out, and it worked out for the best for me right now. ”
Do you want to show the teams that passed on you in the draft that they made a mistake?
Cutler: “I think everyone in the league has a little sense of pride, a little chip on their shoulder, when they get passed over by teams. But I have to take care of my job and my responsibilities with this team. Obviously I want to play well, but I have moved past all that stuff. ”
Have things settled down for you now in your second year in the NFL?
Cutler: “Oh definitely. Last year it was a whirlwind there at the end of the season, and we were kind of in a playoff chase. I was just getting my feet wet and trying to figure out exactly what it takes to be a quarterback in this league. Obviously, nine games into it now, I’m comfortable and things have slowed down. I know what is expected from me week to week and things have calmed down. ”
What are the differences and pressures this year, knowing you would be the starting quarterback?
Cutler: “It actually takes it a little bit higher. The bar was obviously raised, but I had an entire offseason, the whole training camp and minicamp to be in there as a starter and earn the respect of the veterans. I just had a better feel of what was going to be expected of me going into the season. Last year, it was tough, because they kind of made a decision the day after a game, and I had to get ready for a Seattle game on Sunday night. It was a tough situation. ”
How is it adjusting to playing with different receivers while several starters are out with injuries?
Cutler: “We’ve had some new receivers, a new center, a new guard. We lost (running back) Travis (Henry) here for the last couple of weeks. We’ve been shifting people in and out. Everyone has kind of stepped up in their own way and helped this offense move. We’ve moved the ball against some good defenses. We’ve had some trouble scoring at times, but we’re making it work. ”
How has Henry been handling everything?
Cutler: “He hasn’t been practicing or playing with us that much, but he has been supportive of the running backs and of this offense. I thought he has handled everything as a professional. The team still supports him. The coaches support him. I just hope everything turns out in his favor. ”
Do you think that the Titans RB and Denver native LenDale White and Henry will be especially motivated on Monday?
Cutler: “Definitely. It’s exciting. LenDale is starting to pick up his game a little bit and is obviously coming back home. Travis is up against the team that let him go. Hopefully those guys will both run hard and stay healthy. ”
What do you think about Broncos rookie Selvin Young?
Cutler: “We kind of had a good feel for what Selvin was all about from training camp and minicamps. We have just been getting him in there slowly but surely. He’s a smart kid. He picks up the offense and knows what to do each and every week in the run and pass game. He has got an extra burst. He’s a playmaker out there, so we’ll be trying to get him the ball a little bit more. ”
How much does the altitude in Denver affect home-field advantage?
Cutler: “It’s tough. When I first got out here for the offseason workouts after I got drafted, it takes a good two or three weeks to really get fully adjusted to it. I think it definitely is an advantage to us for teams that are coming in that play at sea level or in a lot of humidity because it sucks the wind right out of you. ”
Does the altitude have a greater effect early or late in a game?
Cutler: “Late in the game, definitely. The longer you’re in it, it takes a lot longer to recover. ”
How has it been playing quarterback for the Broncos after John Elway?
Cutler: “It has been tough. It has died down this year. Kind of when I first got here, all I heard was Elway this and Elway that. He set the expectations and the bar, as far as quarterback play, pretty high here. The fans are smart with their quarterbacks. They know what they expect out of them and how they want them to play. It has been fun. It has been a challenge, but I have enjoyed it. ”
Have you talked to Elway?
Cutler: “I’ve talked to him a little bit. I saw him before the season started. He’s a busy guy with his arena team and coaching his son. With all the stuff that he is involved in, he’s tough to get a hold of. I talk to him occasionally. He throws out pieces of advice here and there. ”
Do you ever think about what life will be like down the road after football, given the injury problems common to retired players?
Cutler: “Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of players in this league probably think about that, but it is the price you pay for playing the game that you love. Obviously it gets physical, and we all know that going into it. We all know the risks involved in playing football, the immediate risks and the long-term effect. It’s something that plays in your mind. Hopefully guys save their money well, invest and save up for the future. ”
Do you reflect on defeating the University of Tennessee in your final game with Vanderbilt, as the Commodores travel to take on the Volunteers this weekend?
Cutler: “Yeah. They’re playing and they are bowl eligible if they get a win. They have a lot to play for, in-state rivalry and a potential bowl game. I remember when we went over there and beat them in my last game. It was a lot of fun, and we gave the Vanderbilt alums and fans some memories. ”
Will you call to give a pep talk to the Commodores?
Cutler: “I might say something to them later in the week. ”
Did playing last week after an injury proved something about your toughness?
Cutler: “No, I think this team knows what I’m about. I’m going to go out there every week if I can. We have a lot of veteran guys, and they expect a lot out of the younger guys. Being a quarterback and captain of this team, I expect a lot out of myself. If I can play, I’m going to play. I know a lot of these guys are hurting, especially half way through the year everyone has a lot of bumps and bruises, but you just have to fight through them. ”
Have you kept up with how Young is doing for the Titans?
Cutler: “It’s too hard. There is too much stuff going on. I can’t even tell you my own stats much less what Vince or Matt (Leinart) does. ”
What about your third down statistics, ranking third in the league, do you take pride in that?
Cutler: “Hopefully you didn’t give me a jinx there, because I didn’t know that. We take a lot of pride on third down, especially myself because that is my job, to get this team in the position to score points and to move us on third down to keep the chains going. We started off a little slow, but we’ve gotten better and better with protection. With Brandon Stokely out there and Brandon Marshall, we have some guys stepping up. It’s something that we work on hard. ”
How do you like working with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, formerly with the Titans?
Cutler: “Dinger? I like Dinger. He gets on me a little bit. I get on him. We kind of have a love-hate relationship. At the end of the day, we get the job done. I think we work well together. ”
How do your teammates like Heimerdinger?
Cutler: “They like him. We have a lot of offensive minds here with Coach Shanahan and Dinger and some other guys that we brought in. I think everyone gels together with this offense. I think the players take a lot of ownership, and the coaches don’t have to get on us as much. We try to enforce stuff, and if we have to start something over, we start it over. ”
How about Coach Shanahan and Coach Fisher being long time friends?
Cutler: “Coach Fisher, when I met him, he is a first class guy. He’s like Coach Shanahan, he is a guy you want to play for. He tries to put his team in the best position to win. They go out and get the players they need, and they don’t take a lot of crap from people. It’s a joy playing for Coach Shanahan, and I’m sure the Titans feel the same about Coach Fisher. ”
Do you think that Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett is an NFL caliber receiver?
Cutler: “I mean, I think he is. I played with Earl for a year. I know what he is all about. He is a great kid, a hard worker, he makes big plays. I definitely think he can play in this league. ”
Will you watch the Thanksgiving Day games this year?
Cutler: “Yeah, I think so. We’ll probably be at work in the morning, but I’m sure Coach Shanahan will give us the afternoon off to spend with our family. I think that is part of America, watching some football after you eat your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m definitely going to catch some of it.”