Cardinals' Bruce Arians: Bears' Jay Cutler 'might be most misunderstood quarterback in the league'

"I loved the guy," Jay Cutler said of meeting Bruce Arians when he interviewed for the Bears job in 2013. "You could tell right away the guys were going to like him and buy into what he had to say." Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It didn't take long for Jay Cutler to like Bruce Arians.

The two met when Arians interviewed with the Chicago Bears in early January 2013, soon after Lovie Smith was fired, and they instantly clicked.

"I loved the guy," Cutler said Wednesday on a conference call with Arizona media. "You could tell right away the guys were going to like him and buy into what he had to say. He was a guy's guy. He could sit around and shoot the s--- with you or sit around and do whatever.

"I really enjoyed my time with him. He knew offensive football. That was the least of his concern. He had a great game plan and obviously Arizona picked him and got a great coach."

Arians felt similarly about Cutler.

"I met a guy that was very passionate about the game, wanted to win and was willing to do whatever it took to win," Arians said. "I always felt he might be the most misunderstood quarterback in the league."

The Bears decision to hire Marc Trestman over Arians has led to one of football's greatest mysteries: What could Arians, a quarterback guru, have done with Cutler? Arians said he wouldn't have any problems coaching Cutler.

Arians understands some of his struggles better than most, having been a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Cutler is on his fifth offensive coordinator in seven seasons with Chicago.

"It's hard," Arians said. "It's a lot easier when you stay in the same system your whole career, but when you go through three or four in four or five years, it's extremely hard on you. He's a very bright guy. It's a matter of learning the language, all the little scenarios of hots and blitzes and those things, especially if you are changing personnel, which he has had to do."

Had Arians been hired by the Bears, he said teammates wouldn't have been allowed to criticize Cutler, which has happened in recent seasons. But Arians wasn't and Cutler is on his second offensive coordinator since that decision was made. The Bears' relationship with Trestman lasted just two seasons before he and general manager Phil Emery were fired on Dec. 29.

Arians has never been told why he wasn't hired. At this point -- 22 wins, a playoff berth and a coach-of-the-year award later -- he doesn't care. The Bears have won 13 games since passing on Arians.

"I don't know what else I could've done," he said.

Part of Arians' interview process was a mock press conference. He sat in front of about 20 Bears employees in an auditorium as they asked questions. Arians said it replicated a normal press conference, and that he was himself, which means he likely sprinkled in some colorful language.

But what happened in 2013 is over with and Arians was just happy the Bears passed on him.

"I don't look in the past," he said. "Why? I am just as excited as hell to be here with the things we are doing and with the guys who are doing them."