Phillips: Cutler developing into leader

Bears president Ted Phillips said Jay Cutler is as tough as any player. Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips said on Thursday that Jay Cutler is developing into a team leader and hasn't disappointed since the 2009 trade that lured him from the Denver Broncos.

"I think he's really developing into a good leader," Phillips said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Love his talent.

"He came here in a difficult situation with the trade. We gave up a lot to get him [Kyle Orton, three draft picks, including two first-rounders], and he hasn't disappointed."

Cutler did have a disappointing '09 as he threw 26 interceptions to go along with 27 touchdowns. He rebounded last season with Mike Martz as offensive coordinator, with 23 TDs and 16 picks.

"I'm excited about Jay," Phillips said. "I love his ability and what he's bringing to the team in terms of leadership. I think he grew a lot last year, and I think he's going to continue to surprise his -- if he has any doubters -- he's going to surprise them this year."

Phillips praised the toughness of Cutler, who was sacked a league-high 52 times last season. That's what made many Cutler supporters upset with critics who questioned his toughness when he left the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers with a sprained MCL.

"It's ridiculous," Phillips said. "It was laughable.

"There is no tougher player than Jay Cutler. I feel bad that he had to go through that, but he's very resilient. He's dealt with it very well and he's not one of those guys who seeks out attention. And that's ok. He's just going to keep getting more and more comfortable and confident as the weeks go by. He's probably one of the most competitive guys I've ever been around, and he's got an incredible drive to win. That's what's most important."