Bears general manager Phil Emery, speaking to the media Wednesday for the first time since training camp, steadfastly defended quarterback Jay Cutler's sideline demeanor, which has included bumping offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb and walking away from offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
Emery also said there have not been any contract extension talks with head coach Lovie Smith, and that he expects that issue will be addressed after the season.
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Emery had much more to say about Cutler's standing, adding that he considered the Bears a family and that overall Cutler has been a valuable member of that family.
"When I look at the team at the end of the day, are we all going in the same direction in a positive way?" Emery said. "Do we have a passion for one another. Are we allowing each other to work toward excellence. Are we there to help one another? True love and understanding for each other, and do we have a commitment to moving forward?
"In each one of those ways, when I look at Jay Cutler, the answer is 'yes.' He's a passionate player, he has great drive and energy, he's moving toward excellence, he does care and love his teammates, and he's a big part of what we're doing and the positive things that we're doing."
Cutler has been criticized by some national media representatives, including former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, but Emery dismissed that.
"I can't speak for Terry Bradshaw," Emery said. "I can just speak about us. I am a Jay Cutler fan. I believe in what he is doing as a quarterback. If you look at the simple things, the 9-1 (record) in the last 10 games, the 22-10 (record) over the last three years, those stats say something -- that we have a winner at a key position for our franchise.
"I said early in the year that I felt Jay was a franchise-level quarterback. I will continue to say that."
As far as a contract extension for Smith, whose deal is up after next season, Emery said he was amused at an erroneous radio report saying negotiations had begun.
"I said, 'Geez, even if that was true, when would we have gotten that done?' " Emery said. "Coach Smith is very focused on improving this team on a daily basis. There are not enough hours in a day to have those kinds of conversations, and that's pretty much where we're at.
"My preference is to do these things at the end of the year. There may be a situation where it's to the club's advantage and to the player's advantage to do something during the season. But most often it's better to wait until the end of the year, until you have a full evaluation and move forward with that. That applies not only to our players but to our head coach and our coaching staff."
On the defensive side of the ball, Emery said he believes eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is still making progress from his preseason knee surgery and called his presence on the field invaluable.
"What I see on the field is a great communicator," the first-year general manager said. "When he is there, this guy has a tremendous role in terms of the communicating of our defense and making it all fit together, and I think he is doing an outstanding job with that, and I think that is a big part of why we are playing well.
"From a physical aspect, I do see a guy that has gotten better each week working back through the injury."