Bears QB Cutler empathizes with Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz

ByJeff Dickerson ESPN logo
Friday, September 16, 2016

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One quarterback to another, Jay Cutler complimented Carson Wentz on Friday for having the wherewithal to start Week 1 as a rookie.

Like Wentz, Cutler is a former first-round pick, going No. 11 overall to the Denver Broncos in 2006.

Unlike Wentz, however, Cutler had the good fortune of watching from the sidelines until the final five games that year.

"I mean I had the luxury of being able to sit and watch Jake Plummer," Cutler said. "I was on a really veteran team and I was able to sit for most of the season and kind of learn and kind of figure it out and then got thrown in there later on. To play right off the bat coming in, these guys that get drafted -- they're probably a little bit better prepared than we were 10, 12 years ago. They see more looks. The whole predraft process is so involved now, but you still have to go out there and strap it up and play and it's not easy."

Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan exercised some patience with Cutler, but expectations were still high. Denver drafted Cutler to be their quarterback of the future, and the same line of thinking applies to Wentz, who went second overall to Philadelphia out of North Dakota State, where he led the Bison to back-to-back NCAA Division I FCS national championships.

From that perspective, Cutler knows exactly what Wentz will encounter on a daily basis.

"It's difficult," Cutler said. "I think he's in a good spot. I think [Eagles coach] Doug [Pederson] understands that position really well and you can't lean on that guy that much early on. It has to be a team sport. You have to put him in position to be successful and you have to hope that your offense is going to grow together for two or three years, because changing coaches, changing offensive coordinators is hard on a young quarterback."

Wentz looked sharp in the Eagles' season opener against the Browns, completing 22 of 37 pass attempts for 278 yards and two touchdowns. But one game does not make a season.

The Eagles (1-0) face a stiffer challenge against the Bears (0-1) at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.

And as Cutler can also attest, there are several variables a quarterback must adjust to when making the leap from college to the NFL.

"I think everyone talks about the speed," Cutler said. "Playing [at Vanderbilt] in the SEC, I think that prepared me a little bit better for the speed of the game. Because the guys on your side in college are faster as well. I think it's just the intensity of the game plan, how much is involved there, the checks, the defense, the way it's disguised. You factor in those two things, and the intensity of what's involved offensively, and you've got a lot on your plate."